We can’t afford to lose more lives to HIV

By Cedric Nininahazwe
25 May 2019

It’s Africa Day today and for us at Y+ it’s a reminder of the incredible numbers of young people on our continent, a reminder of the issues we are facing as young people and our potential to address them through our creativity and energy.

Four in 10 people – 42% of the global population – are aged under 25.  We need young people to be healthy. We definitely can’t afford to lose more lives to HIV. As young people, we are the building blocks of all aspects of global development. We are not only the future of the world but the present.

When should I test for HIV?

  • As young people, we need to know our HIV status and test regularly. This is especially important if you are exposed to HIV.
  • If you have had unprotected sex (sex without a condom, or the condom burst or came out during sex), you need to have an HIV test  to confirm your status and to get the care you need

Evidence: HIV Testing and Immediate Access to Treatment Reduces HIV Incidence

PopART, also known as HPTN 071, was a large community-randomised trial (2013-2019) carried out in Zambia and South Africa. The study involved community health workers who visited households within a geographical area and offered home-based HIV testing and counselling. The study’s primary finding was, HIV testing followed by immediate access to treatment results to a drop in HIV incidence (new infections).

According to Richard Hayes, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Sarah Fidler, Imperial College who led the (PopART) trial, “the universal testing during the community randomised trial reduced HIV incidence, so it means it is indeed a valuable tool.”

Current Global HIV statistics (UNAIDS)

  • 36.9 million people globally were living with HIV in 2017
  • 21.7 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy in 2017
  • 1.8 million people newly acquired HIV in 2017
  • 940 000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2017
  • 77.3 million people have acquired HIV since the start of the epidemic
  • Over 40 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the beginning of the epidemic

We want a world where there are no more new HIV infections 

Our African continent and the rest world remains profoundly challenged by HIV. Over 30% of all new HIV infections globally are estimated to occur among young people (15 to 25 years). Researchers can correlate this trend with early sexual debut.

We want a world where there are no more new HIV infections. A world where young people can embrace effective measures to prevent new infections. These include excellent sexuality education at school to enable young people to know and decide when they are ready to have sex, using male and female condoms, using PrEP and testing regularly for HIV.

We also want a world where those of us living with HIV have access to sexual and reproductive health information, as well as prevention and treatment services so we can enjoy positive health and wellbeing, free from judgement and discrimination.