United Nation AIDS (UNAIDS) country director Sirra Horeja Ndow said as part of the 30th commemoration of World AIDS Day, UNAIDS is making a global call to increase access and uptake to HIV testing to ensure that the 9.4 million people around the world who are unaware of their HIV-positive status can access treatment.
She said this will enable people with HIV negative to continue to protect themselves against the virus
Speaking at a press conference held at the National AIDS Secretariat (NAS) alongside Kairaba Avenue in commemoration of World AIDS Day, Mrs Ndow said around the world, 37 million people are living with HIV, which is the highest number ever but yet a quarter did not know that they have the virus. “1.8 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2017 and only 8.1 million people living with HIV are reported to be on treatment and accessing viral load testing in 2016,” she added.
She stated that people knowing their HIV status has many advantages, saying it is an essential entry point to HIV treatment, prevention, care and support services. She also stated that people who tested positive for HIV should be immediately linked to antiretroviral therapy to keep them alive and well, and when viral role suppression is reached, prevent transmission of the virus.
She said several countries, including The Gambia have adapted the test on treat policy recommended by WHO and its partners.
Sheriff Badjie, assistant program manager and viral hepatitis focal point at National AIDS Control Program (NACP) highlighted that since the discovery of HIV in 1984; more than 35 million people have died of it, making it one of the most destructive pandemic in human history.
Mr. Badjie said the theme for this year’s commemoration is “Know Your HIV Status,” saying the theme is befitting giving the fact that many barriers to HIV testing still remains. “Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, through NACP will continue to spearhead the health sector response in partnership with other stakeholders to strengthen the gains made in the national response to HIV and AIDS prevention and control in the country,” he said.
He said with support from partners mainly Global Fund and UN Agencies, the ministry is also committed to scale up universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.