World AIDS Day 2022: Early HIV detection important to simplify and improve patient care

World AIDS Day 2022: Available WHO data show that among people confirmed to have mpox, 52 percent were people living with HIV.

World AIDS Day 2022: Early HIV detection important to simplify and improve patient care
World AIDS Day,1 December 2022: In the South-East Asia Region, an estimated 3.8 million people are living with HIV. (Image: IE)

World AIDS Day: On the ocassion of the World AIDS Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged global leaders to recognise and address the inequalities that are becoming challenges in achieving the global goal to end AIDS by 2030.

The WHO has also pointed out that Of the 38 million people living with HIV, 5.9 million people who know they have HIV are not receiving treatment and further 4 million people living with HIV have not yet been diagnosed.

The global health agency also pointed out that while 76 percent of adults overall were receiving antiretroviral treatment that help them lead normal and healthy lives, only 52% of children living with HIV were accessing this treatment globally in 2021. Moreover, 70 percent of new HIV infections are among people who are marginalized and often criminalised.

While transmission has declined overall in Africa, there has been no significant decline among men who have sex with men – a key population group — in the past 10 years, WHO said on Thursday.

Overlapping Epidemics of mpox and HIV

Available WHO data show that among people confirmed to have mpox, 52 percent were people living with HIV. Global data reported to WHO suggest that people living with mpox with untreated HIV appear to be at risk for more severe disease than people without HIV.

The current response to mpox shows that transmission can move quickly in sexual networks and within marginalized populations. But it can also be prevented with community-led responses and open attitudes to address stigma, and health and wellbeing can be improved and lives can be saved.

“People must not be denied HIV services no matter who they are or where they live, if we are to achieve health for all. In order to end AIDS, we need to end new infections among children, end lack of treatment access to them, and end structural barriers and stigma and discrimination towards key populations in every country as soon as possible,” said Dr Meg Doherty, WHO Director of the HIV, Hepatitis and STI programmes.

HIV-AIDS in India

The recent estimates of UNAIDS that have shown the Asia-Pacific region to have around 95 per cent of the new infections occurring among sex workers and their clients, gay men, transgender persons, drug users, prisoners, etc.

India has reported a significant decline in the HIV prevalence trend since the epidemic’s peak in the year 2000 (0.55 per cent) and has been stabilising in recent years (0.21 per cent in 2021), according to National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) Estimates 2021.

However, experts have also pointed out that important gains made in HIV testing nationwide have also been threatened over recent years, with people facing obstacles to accessing diagnostics during the pandemic.

It is noteworthy that early and accurate detection of HIV positive patients is important to simplify the patient journey to access the needed care as quickly as possible.

Moreover, early diagnosis prevents future HIV transmissions, with individuals who are unaware of their infection 3.5 times more likely to transmit the virus to someone else. It also reduces the risk of patient morbidity and mortality.

“AIDS is a life-threatening chronic condition caused due to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV is a sexually transmitted infection that damages the body’s immune system further disabling the capability to fight an infection or disease. If HIV is not treated in time, it can lead to AIDS. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has been in existence for a long time now and people are still not aware of how to deal with the patient. Infected blood, illicit injection drugs, and sharing the same needles with the infected person can spread the disease. If an expecting mother is suffering from AIDS, it can be passed on to the baby during pregnancy and even breastfeeding. Having unprotected sex with an infected can pass on the condition and lead to severe outcomes,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Internal Medicine, Paras Hospital, Gurugram told Financial

Dr. Gupta also pointed out that India has reported more than 17 lakh HIV cases over the past 10 years due to unprotected sex.

“People are still stubborn about using birth control and this leads to fatal situations in many. Social stigma is a huge culprit and spreads many diseases to the vulnerable crowd as well. Albeit campaigns these days are taking the good initiative to spread the right message and we can also see the numbers dropping. With this year’s World AIDS Day theme: Global solidarity, shared responsibility, let us support by spreading maximum awareness among people,” he said.

ALSO READ | World AIDS Day: Need to provide everyone equitable access to HIV prevention, treatment, says WHO

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First published on: 01-12-2022 at 17:50 IST