A whopping 8.1 million people with HIV have not been diagnosed and are living across the globe, says the World Health Organization.
On the eve of World AIDS Day, the WHO has pointed out that 8.1 million people with HIV are yet to be diagnosed; therefore, they are unable to obtain lifesaving treatment.
The UN agency has released guidelines on HIV testing services to reach out to these affected people so that they get due treatment. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said, “More people are receiving treatment than ever before, but too many are still not getting the help they need because they have not been diagnosed. WHO’s new HIV testing guidelines aim to dramatically change this.”
The guidelines recommend social network-based HIV testing to reach key populations, who are at high risk but have less access to services. These include men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, transgender population and people in prisons.
The WHO has pointed out that these “key populations” and their partners account for over 50% of new HIV infections. The recommendations include use of peer-led, innovative digital communications such as short messages and videos which can build demand- and increase uptake of HIV testing.
The WHO has said that evidence from Vietnam shows that online outreach workers counseled around 6500 people from at-risk key population groups, of which 80% were referred to HIV testing and 95% took the tests. The majority (75%) of people who received counselling had never been in contact before with peer or outreach services for HIV.
The guidelines emphasize on focused community efforts to deliver rapid testing through lay providers for relevant countries in the European, South-East Asian, Western Pacific and Eastern Mediterranean regions where longstanding laboratory-based method called “western blotting” is still in use.
The guidelines read that using HIV/syphilis dual rapid tests in antenatal care as the first HIV test can help countries eliminate mother-to-child transmission of both infections. The move can help close the testing and treatment gap and combat the second leading cause of stillbirths globally.