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With 20 Billion Condoms and 3 Million People on PrEP, Could We Reach the UNAIDS HIV Prevention Goal in 5 Years?

, by Emily Newman

BETA is reporting from the 21st International AIDS Conference this week in Durban, South Africa—bringing you the latest news, updates, and research on HIV treatment and prevention.

Can we reduce the total number of new HIV infections that happen worldwide every year, from 2 million to 500,000—in five years?

That’s a question the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)—a global organization that has outlined a track for the world to end the HIV epidemic by the year 2030—is working on solving.  As part of their “fast-track” targets that they’ve set for the year 2020, UNAIDS has a goal of reducing the annual number of new adult HIV infections by 75% between 2010 and 2020.

UNAIDS slide

(Slide: UNAIDS)

The problem is that the number of new adult HIV infections—after declining from the mid-90s to mid-2000s—has stabilized. More than five years into the UNAIDS timeline, we have yet to achieve any decline in the total number of adult HIV infections with about 2 million adults newly infected with HIV every year.

Is it possible for the worldwide HIV community to reduce HIV infections by 75% in five years—and meet the UNAIDS goal?

It is possible, said Karl Dehne of UNAIDS at an AIDS 2016 session today.

Karl Dehne

Karl Dehne (Photo: BETA)

“These ambitious targets can be reached if there is a political will and if there is a system put in place to reach them. In order to reach this ambitious target, there needs to be something done about the amount, there needs to be the supply, and the delivery system,” said Dehne. “And people need to be empowered to adhere. And none of that is going to be possible if the service delivery platforms are not established.”

The most recent UNAIDS prevention report, said Dehne, outlines the scale-up of HIV prevention strategies that will be needed to meet this goal. They include:

  • Making 20 billion condoms available every year to low- and middle-income countries;
  • Reaching 3 million people at higher risk for HIV with PrEP;
  • Reaching an additional 25 million young men with voluntary medical male circumcision;
  • Reaching young women and girls and their sexual partners in high-prevalence areas with HIV-prevention and harm reduction; and,
  • Ensuring that 90% of people at risk for HIV have access to comprehensive prevention services.

As evidence that this rapid scale-up of programs and resources may be possible, Dehne pointed to three recent examples.

“In South Africa, we know about the scale-up of antiretroviral therapy. We went from 2 million to 3 million in only 3 years. In Kenya, medical male circumcision went up from 20,000 to 160,000 in only three years. And we have the example of India, who in four years the number of sex workers reached went from 25,000 to 350,000—and now is in the millions. A very recent example is condom distribution in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The number of condoms distributed went up from 25 million to 200 million alone in this province from 2012 to 2015.”

Want more news and research from the AIDS 2016 Conference? Click here to find more on BETA

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