*This blog was last updated on 18 July 2019 with the latest UNAIDS data.
Many people don’t see or experience HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) or malaria up close on a daily basis. But that doesn’t mean these are diseases of the past. Let’s take a look at some common assumptions about HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria.
AIDS is a crisis now
Over 37 million people are living with HIV today, and more than 14 million of them still can’t get life-saving treatment. As a result, over 2,000 people die from AIDS every day. Just over half of the children living with HIV have access to life-saving treatment. And, progress on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV is slipping.
The epidemic is growing in part because there is a 25% global shortfall of funding needed to reach key targets in the hardest-hit countries by 2020. If we fail to reach these targets, the disease will continue to outpace our response well into the future. In practice, this means we could lose all the hard-earned progress of the last 15 years.
HIV isn’t history…yet
Globally, over 800 girls and women ages 15 to 24 contract HIV every day. The vast majority of these girls and women live in sub-Saharan Africa. Here, young women are twice as likely as young men to contract HIV.
This increased risk of contracting HIV is partly driven by complex economic and social factors. For example, stigma and social taboos limit education about safe sex and protection. This means girls often lack the information they need to protect themselves against HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections. Limited opportunities to earn income may force girls to enter into transactional sexual relationships, where unprotected sex is exchanged for financial support. And limited autonomy and bargaining power in relationships also increase the risk of HIV among women, particularly those that are those forced to marry as children.
To truly make HIV history we need to look beyond health care alone and address the systemic issues that are helping to perpetuate the epidemic.
The fight isn’t over
Between 2002 and 2017, deaths from AIDS, TB and malaria dropped by one third. This progress is a result of strong partnerships, breakthrough financial commitments from governments and donors, and passionate citizen activism.
But the fight isn’t over yet. In 2018 alone, nearly 800,000 people died from AIDS-related causes globally and another 1.7 million contracted HIV. After 10 years of steady decline, malaria is back on the rise, especially among children under 5 years old. Though more than 10 million people contract TB every year, nearly 40% of those are “missed”. That means nearly 4 million people are annually left undiagnosed, untreated, and contagious.
The battle against these three diseases isn’t over. Luckily, we have the tools we need to finish the fight.
We have the tools to finish the fight
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is a 21st-century partnership designed to accelerate the end of these preventable diseases as epidemics. It works in partnership with governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by the diseases to put an end to these epidemics by investing in and funding interventions, like prevention and treatment, doctors, nurses, innovative technologies and education programs.
The Global Fund is one of the world’s most powerful tools in the fight against these diseases. In 2017 alone, regions and countries where the Global Fund invests treated 108 million cases of malaria and 5 million people for TB, plus 17.5 million people were on ARV therapy to treat HIV. In the same year, 197 million mosquito nets were distributed, over 79 million HIV tests were completed and HIV prevention services and programs reached 9.4 million people.
In October, the Global Fund is hosting its Sixth Replenishment. We’re asking world leaders and private investors to come together and help save 16 million lives between 2021 and 2023 by meeting their replenishment goal of at least US$14 billion. This investment is the bold ambition the world needs to get us back on track to stop the spread of these diseases.
To continue funding life-saving programs like this one, we need world leaders to #StepUpTheFight by fully financing the Global Fund.