3 THINGS TO WATCH FOR AT AIDS 2018
The global health community wants 30 million people to be on HIV treatment by 2030, up from almost 20 million today. But reaching the next ten million with testing, treatment and prevention services presents a special challenge.
At the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018), scheduled for 23-27 July, the world’s experts will discuss ways to intensify the response to the HIV epidemic to reach all vulnerable communities. Particularly, those who are stigmatized or have little access to health care facilities.
Interested in AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam? Here are some themes to watch for:
1. Gaps in the global response
Reaching more children, adolescent girls and men is not only a matter of equity, but it is also essential to ending the global HIV epidemic.
“We must reach all population groups, otherwise we will not meet the 2030 goals,” says Unitaid’s HIV strategy manager Carmen Pérez
This includes high-risk populations such as transgender people, inmates, men who have sex with men, young people and sex workers.
“We need to develop and scale-up better treatment, testing and prevention methods. Innovative solutions that take into consideration the people who are not being reached by other tools,” says Pérez. HIV self-testing and preventive oral treatment (PrEP) are two strategies AIDS 2018 will shine a light on.
2. One patient, various infections
The global health community faces a double challenge: making the most of the available resources, while all vulnerable people get access to prevention, testing and treatment. Here is where integration comes in.
People living with HIV are often affected by other infections such as hepatitis C; tuberculosis, which is the leading cause of death among AIDS patients, and the human papilloma virus, which may lead to cervical cancer.
The conference will take a hard look at how to better tackle co-infections. Experts have been exploring two strategies: using innovative technologies that test for multiple infections and the ‘one patient, one visit’ approach.
Stepping up prevention is crucial to maintaining and advancing the gains made against HIV/AIDS, as shown by the resurgence of HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
This year’s conference will examine ways to improve prevention in different health care settings, particularly among young people.
On the agenda: how to better test people for HIV and link them to prevention and treatment services, and how to better deliver preventive oral medication (PrEP) to reduce the risk of HIV infection from sex in high-risk groups.