World AIDS Day is held on the 1st December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died from the disease. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held in 1988.
World AIDS Day is an opportunity to show support to and solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV. Wearing a red ribbon is one way to do this. Although World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to talk about HIV, it is important to keep the momentum going all year round.
On the 29 November 2016, to commemorate World AIDS Day, WHO released new guidelines on HIV self-testing to improve access to and uptake of HIV diagnosis. According to a new WHO progress report lack of an HIV diagnosis is a major obstacle to implementing the Organisation’s recommendation that everyone with HIV should be offered antiviral therapy (ART).
The report reveals that more than 18 million people with HIV are currently taking ART, and a similar number is still unable to access treatment, the majority of which are unaware of their HIV positive status. Today, 40% of all people with HIV (over 14 million) remain unaware of their status. Many of these are people at higher risk of HIV infection who often find it difficult to access existing testing services.
The report emphasises that countries need to live up to their commitment to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030.
The immediate challenge is to reach the Fast-Track targets for 2020 – including the 90–90–90 targets – as new infections and HIV-related deaths are still unacceptably high.
The report also highlights the key gaps in impact and country results and shows how WHO is working with countries and partners to address these gaps to achieve the Fast- Track targets by 2020 and contribute to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.