The Pan American Health Organization or PAHO says 2.5M people are living with HIV in the Caribbean and Latin America and the organization. And in 2021, approximately 120,000 people became infected with the virus and a further 35,000 lost their lives from AIDS-related causes.
PAHO used World AIDS Day today Thursday said that countries need to address the inequalities that prevent progress toward ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. This year, the theme of the day is “Equality.”
PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said in a press statement Thursday that access to testing and the implementation of innovations, for early diagnosis, prevention and timely treatment continue to be affected by inequality, which is slowing our progress toward eliminating AIDS.
“This is unacceptable given the powerful tools at our disposal to make AIDS a public health problem of the past,” she stressed.
While 82 percent of people living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean know their status, only 69 percent receive antiretroviral treatment and 63 percent have a suppressed or undetectable viral load, which is essential for maintaining good health and preventing transmission of the virus to others.
To change course, we need an integrated response, extended to all communities at risk. We must address stigma and discrimination to broaden access” to diagnosis, prevention, and treatment for all. The end of AIDS and many other infectious diseases can only be achieved if we tackle the barriers that prevent access to services and tools for those who need them the most,” she said
Currently, only 14 countries in the region have HIV self-testing available, 25 countries have introduced dolutegravir, and only a very limited number of people at substantial risk of HIV infection receive PrEP.