Hiv and aids
36,7 million people worldwide are living with HIV, 25,5 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa. If HIV is not treated people will develop Aids and will not survive the disease. In 2015, 1.1 million people died of Aids, two thirds of them in Africa. This makes Aids the one of the main causes of death in women between the ages of 15 and 44 worldwide and the second major cause of death in low income countries.
HIV a development challenge
HIV and Aids represent a major health and development problem. The HIV epidemic undermines the development of people, regions and nations. It mainly affects the active population and consequently has an impact on a country’s socio-economic development. Fields remain fallow. Hospitals cannot find nursing staff. Schools lose teachers. Children are being raised by grandparents.
HIV prevention and treatment
2,1 million people became infected with HIV in 2015, a drop of 35% compared to 2001. Nowadays we are able to employ better means of prevention and improved strategies than ten years ago, including condoms, sex education, male circumcision and preventive treatment. However, with nearly 6,000 new infections each day the number remains high. New and more effective means of prevention remain a necessity in order to scale back the epidemic on a permanent basis, which is why the international community is conducting research into other means of prevention such as a vaginal microbicide ring, which should protect women from HIV, and a preventive Aids vaccine.
HIV has become a chronic disease since the introduction of HIV medication, at least for those with access to medication. The number of people with access to HIV medication is rising, with 18,2 million receiving treatment in 2015. In low and middle income countries, however, only half of people with HIV requiring medication have access to life saving Aids inhibitors. Cheaper HIV medication and healthcare system improvements are needed to guarantee access to HIV medication.
HIV and human rights
As long as people with HIV are stigmatised and discriminated against, people will be reluctant to be tested and ask for support. The inequality between men and women also results in women being exposed to HIV more frequently. HIV can consequently not be conquered without taking into account human rights. The promotion of sexual and reproductive rights and the protection of the rights of vulnerable groups such as women, migrants and men engaging in sex with men, are therefore a fundamental aspect of the approach to HIV and Aids.
Additionally, HIV infections are still associated with specific behaviour (homosexuality, drug use, prostitution and promiscuity) that is not generally socially accepted. Sex and sexuality are also controversial and emotive topics. Stigma and discrimination against people with HIV can also be the result of ignorance about how the virus is transmitted or how infectious it is.
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