Communities unique force behind success of HIV response

Communities unique force behind success of HIV response

Agency News

Kolkata, Nov 27 : The commemoration of World AIDS Day, which will take place on December 1, is an important opportunity to recognize the essential role that communities have played and continue to play in the AIDS response at the international, national and local levels.

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Communities make the difference".

Communities contribute to the AIDS response in many different ways. Their leadership and advocacy ensure that the response remains relevant and grounded, keeping people at the centre and leaving no one behind.

Communities include peer educators, networks of people living with or affected by HIV, such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers, women and young people, counsellors, community health workers, door-to-door service providers, civil society organizations and grass-roots activists.

World AIDS Day offers an important platform to highlight the role of communities at a time when reduced funding and a shrinking space for civil society are putting the sustainability of services and advocacy efforts in jeopardy. Greater mobilization of communities is urgently required to address the barriers that stop communities delivering services, including restrictions on registration and an absence of social contracting modalities.

The strong advocacy role played by communities is needed more than ever to ensure that AIDS remains on the political agenda, that human rights are respected and that decision-makers and implementers are held accountable.

Today 4 in 5 people with HIV get tested and 2 in 3 get treatment: communities played a major role in achieving this success.

Of the estimated 37.9 million people living with HIV at the end of 2018, 79 per cent were diagnosed, 62 per cent received treatment, and 53 per cent had achieved suppression of the HIV virus with low risk of infecting others.

One of the key contributors to this success in all countries has been the thousands of members of HIV and “key population” community networks and community health workers, many of whom are living with or affected by HIV.

WHO recommends countries to adopt community-based HIV testing, prevention, treatment and care as a core strategy. (UNI)