The world Health Organisation ( WHO ) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS ( UNAIDS ) have endorsed and encouraged universal access to knowledge of HIV status in the country.
The two world bodies pointed out that there are many advantages to taking an HIV/AIDS test adding that people who are found to be living with HIV can be linked to immediate offer of antiretroviral therapy ( ART ) saying the antiretroviral therapy maximizes the benefits for an individual’s health.
They narrated that effective antiretroviral therapy, when viral load suppression is achieved can prevent HIV transmission to sexual partners.
The organizations explain that antiretroviral therapy prevents mother-to-child transmission of HIV adding that knowledge of HIV status also enables people to make informed personal decisions about using a range of effective HIV prevention options, including male and female condoms, harm reduction and pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, or undergoing voluntary medical male circumcision.
They added that early antiretroviral therapy maximizes the benefits for an individual’s health and effective antiretroviral therapy, when viral load suppression is achieved, can prevent HIV transmission to sexual and drug injecting partners and prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
According to the two organisations , at the end of 2016, approximately 30 percent of people living with HIV were still unaware of their HIV status.
Out of this involved young people aged 15-24, adult males and people from key populations, men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, people who inject drugs and people in prisons and other closed settings often have significantly lower access to HIV testing services, are less likely to be linked to treatment and care and have lower levels of viral suppression.
The two world bodies believe that HIV testing services are an essential gateway to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.
They stressed that increased access to and uptake of HIV testing is central to achieving the 90-90-90 targets endorsed in the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS.
They encouraged that public health strategies and human rights promotions must be mutually reinforced.
WHO and UNAIDS continue to highlight that all HIV testing services must adhere to the WHO 5 Cs which are Consent, Confidentiality, Counselling, Correct status and Connections.
By 2020, 90% of people (children, adolescents and adults, males and females) living with HIV know their status, 90% of people living with HIV who know their status are receiving antiretroviral treatment and 90% of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads according to the two organisations.
This is contained in a Joint statement made available to ZANIS, last evening.