Kathmandu, 30 Ensuring all people everywhere have access to quality HIV testing and can know their status is critical to preventing and controlling HIV/AIDS, said the World Health Organisation South-East Asia Region today.
A press release issued by WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh stated that in this region, as across the world, many people living with HIV lacked access to testing and hence did not know their HIV status. This inhibits access to treatment and enhances the likelihood of AIDS-related complications and death. It also allows the virus to spread.
In recent years, member states, including Nepal, have made significant progress in all aspects of HIV/AIDS prevention and control, she said. Between 2010 and 2017 AIDS-related deaths declined by 40 per cent. Between 2000 and 2017 new infections were more than halved, from 318,000 to 157,000. “Still, an estimated 3.5 million people region-wide currently live with the disease, with around 51 per cent receiving antiretroviral treatment and an estimated 36 per cent completely unaware of their status. This must be remedied as a priority,” Dr Kshetrapal Singh said in the release.
According to her, fundamental to ensuring all people have access to quality HIV testing is harnessing the many innovations now available. Novel approaches such as community-based testing by lay providers, community-led testing
and HIV self-testing are vital tools to help people know their status.