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The Global Fund / Alexia Webster

The Global Fund and the global health community – governments, civil society groups and people living with HIV, health workers and local and international organizations – have achieved what was once considered impossible. From the peak of the HIV crisis in the late 1990s and early 2000s, we have cut annual AIDS-related deaths and new infections by half.

Of 36.9 million people living with HIV, 21.7 million are on antiretroviral therapy – 17.5 million through Global Fund-supported programs in 2017.

But after more than 15 years of incredible progress, we have now entered a new phase in the fight against HIV. As the epidemic evolves, so must our responses.

The Global Fund / John Rae

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 ARV therapy is not a cure for HIV, treatment reduces the chance that an HIV-positive person will pass the virus to someone else by 97 percent.

Global Fund partners work to combat the stigma and discrimination that often discourage people from seeking this lifesaving treatment.

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One crucial strategy in the battle against HIV is preventing transmission from mothers to newborns. Eighty percent of HIV-positive mothers receive treatment to stop the virus from infecting their babies. Global Fund-supported programs provided such treatment to 696,000 women in 2017.

In Sambo Creek, Honduras, Patricia Moreira, who lives with HIV, is confident her six-month-old son Eduardo will be tested free from the disease after having received treatment to prevent transmission of the virus.

The Global Fund / John Rae
The Global Fund / John Rae

Expanding treatment is vitally important, but it must be paired with innovative and relevant prevention efforts. This is particularly true for adolescent girls and young women, who continue to be disproportionately affected by the epidemic. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 75 percent of new HIV infections among young people are among girls and women aged 15-24. The youth population is expected to double in the next decade in sub-Saharan Africa, so addressing the staggering HIV incidence among adolescent girls and young women is critical to preventing a catastrophic epidemic.

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To end HIV, keep girls in school

More than 40,000 South African girls age 10 to 19 were infected with HIV in 2016. For an adolescent girl, dropping out of school significantly increases the risk that she’ll be infected with HIV.

A 21-year-old sex worker living with HIV watches people play football on a Casablanca beach in Morocco. Because of stigma, he keeps his status a secret from most of his friends.

Photo courtesy of Mark Minton

Key populations for HIV

“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 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.

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The Global Fund / John Rae

Out in the open

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.

The Global Fund / Jonas Gratzer
The Global Fund / Sam Wolson

Medical male circumcision prevents 60 out of every 100 HIV infections that otherwise would have occurred. 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.

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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.

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The Global Fund / John Rae
The Global Fund / John Rae

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.

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Take an HIV self-test, take control of your health

Testing is a crucial step to ending HIV. And yet, about 30 percent of people living with HIV don’t know their status. One innovative way to overcome barriers to HIV testing services is self-testing. HIV self-tests make testing easily available for people at higher risk or living in remote communities. They are available in clinics or can be purchased discretely and used at home. In private. By increasing access to testing services and ensuring high-quality care for all, we have an opportunity to prevent millions of infections by 2020.

Published 12 September 2018