Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund
The Global Fund partnership has achieved what was once considered impossible. AIDS-related deaths have dropped by 68% since the peak of the epidemic in 2004 in countries where the Global Fund invests. Of the 37.7 million people living with HIV, 27.5 million are on antiretroviral therapy today – 21.9 million in the countries where the Global Fund invests. However, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse these extraordinary gains.
HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus, which targets the immune system and weakens people's defense systems. AIDS is acquired immune deficiency syndrome, the most advanced stage of HIV infection.
Today, with access to treatment, an HIV-positive person can expect to have the same lifespan as someone who is HIV-negative. One of the cornerstones of this lifesaving treatment is the use of antiretrovirals (ARVs). While ARVs are not a cure, people living with HIV who take ARVs effectively and whose level of HIV is suppressed to undetectable levels will not transmit HIV sexually.
The Global Fund partnership has acted fast to continue essential HIV services and protect healthcare workers against COVID-19. Data from 2020 show that HIV treatment programs proved to be resilient, and the number of people on antiretroviral therapy rose 9%, from 20.1 million in 2019 to 21.9 million in 2020. However, for the first time in the history of the Global Fund, key prevention and testing services declined compared to the previous year.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it’s not clear if the severe disruptions to treatment and access to prevention services will continue to pull us behind. We are relentlessly working with partners to fight the two diseases. To prevent devastating long-term impacts on the fight against HIV, we must urgently scale up adaptation and mitigation efforts to regain lost progress. Learn more
One crucial strategy in the battle against HIV is preventing transmission from mothers to newborns. In the countries where the Global Fund invested in 2020, about 85% of HIV-positive mothers received treatment to stop the virus from infecting their babies.
Goodness Mbatha and her daughter, Nqabile are the living proof of treatment. When Goodness became pregnant at 23, she knew she was living with HIV. She enrolled in treatment to prevent passing HIV to Nqabile. Today, they are both living healthy, vibrant lives. Goodness and Nqabile's story
In sub-Saharan Africa, there are twice as many HIV infections among 15-24-year-old girls and young women as boys and men in the same age group. In the hardest-hit countries, there are six times more.
With the youth population expected to double in the next decade in sub-Saharan Africa, addressing the staggering HIV incidence among adolescent girls and young women is critical to preventing a catastrophic rise in disease. Now with COVID-19, the stakes are even higher. HIV-positive girls like Grace Ngulube in Malawi are advocating for action. Grace's story
“Key populations” is a general term for specific groups of people who experience increased vulnerability to HIV, tuberculosis or malaria. The “key” in key populations reflects that reaching these groups with prevention, testing, treatment and care, and supporting them to overcome barriers to services, is essential to ending the epidemics.
Key populations for HIV include gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, and transgender people, and people in prison. People in these groups are socially marginalized, often criminalized and face a range of human rights abuses that increase their vulnerability to HIV. Those living with HIV are also considered as a key population. Learn more
HIV challenges society to confront personal, often taboo, topics in an open and honest way. Thanks to bold and committed activists, community organizers and health professionals, the walls are coming down, little by little.
To reach everyone in need with prevention, care and treatment, the Global Fund and partners are moving to a differentiated care approach – one that makes services more accessible and tailored to at-risk populations and people living with HIV.
Male circumcision reduces the risk of female-to-male sexual transmission of HIV by around 60%. But this is not common practice in many communities hard-hit by HIV. The Global Fund supports programs that encourage this under-used, but effective prevention strategy. Circumcision mobilizer, Lutgard Oketch in Kenya represents the growing movement to "go beyond the cut." Lutgard's story>
People engaged in sex work often live in the shadows, on the margins of society. They may face harassment, prosecution and violence, and may be unable to negotiate the use of condoms to prevent HIV. In such cases, the people most in need of prevention, counseling, testing and treatment are often the least likely to receive these services. Global Fund partners offer innovative service delivery programs that are accessible and free from discrimination.
Women’s social and economic marginalization puts them at higher risk for HIV. Global Fund partners recognize that in such circumstances, a bio-medical approach to HIV is insufficient. We must address the root causes of vulnerability. That is why our funding model also prioritizes investments that advance gender equality. Learn more