In Mexico, according to figures from the National Center for the Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS (CENSIDA), 79% of patients with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) know their status, 72% are on treatment and 55% have managed to control it.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) had set a goal of reaching 90/90/90 by 2020.
We recommend: Gerardo Herrera: The big question physicists are asking
This means that: 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of diagnosed people receive ongoing antiretroviral treatment, and that the same percentage have “viral suppression”, meaning that the virus in their blood is at very low levels and they thus enjoy better health and minimize the risks of infection.
Now, the international organization seeks to eradicate the disease over the course of the next 10 years – by 2030 at the latest.
How much have countries advanced? There are nations such as the United Kingdom, Botswana, Cambodia and Denmark, which have already reached 90/90/90 status.
According to the latest UN figures, for 2017, there are 36.9 million HIV positive people around the world. However, only 21.7 million had access to antiretroviral therapy, and 940,000 died from AIDS-related diseases.
Ending the AIDS epidemic will require both improvement in health care and collaboration between governments and private companies.
As of 2018, according to data from HIV Care Connect (an organization that began in Illinois) around 82% of people living with HIV have reached the first stage: knowing their diagnosis.
The second stage, having a health care provider offering treatment, has been reached by 66% of people but only one in three receives antiretroviral treatment, which prevents the HIV from reproducing.
According to UNAIDS, when this triple goal is reached, at least 73% of people with HIV worldwide will have viral suppression; a number three times greater than current estimates
10 years to end AIDS
“In 2000, goals were set to stop AIDS before 2015. However, when the objectives were not reached, a new objective called 90/ 90/90 was promoted, thanks to the commitment of different sectors, UNAIDS, and foundations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” noted Dr. Ricardo Baruch, an activist and researcher on sexual health issues, during the webinar ‘The decade to end the AIDS epidemic’, produced by Love4all, a platform promoting inclusion and diversity.
Baruch reminded us that reaching the goals will not be easy because the majority of the population needs to be tested and the stigma of the virus removed, but many people “prefer not to know”.
In Mexico, according to (CENSIDA), it is estimated that there are 230,000 people living with the infection, but only 182,498 know their status.
“It is thought that (achieving the 90/90/90 goal) would only be possible in countries with a lot of money, but Cambodia and Botswana have achieved this by demonstrating that if there are enough resources, adequate strategies and workable public policies, then it can be achieved,” said Baruch.
Alejandro Reyes, president of Impulse Group Mexico, a movement that seeks to raise awareness about the disease, clarifies that a big issue is that of the stigma that exists in the country, as well as people’s sexual practices.
“The stigmas that people have about HIV and the LGBT community are very serious. It is a problem caused by how we are educated at home. This is despite new generations having very important tools such as social networks to inform themselves and find out about people with HIV,” said Reyes.
The London example
In 1987, Princess Diana opened the first London clinic dedicated to HIV. In an interview with UNAIDS, Peter Godfrey-Faussett, who worked at the Broderip Ward clinic, explained how this service changed the response to AIDS in the country.
“The staff at sexual health clinics began to establish outpatient services that included counseling, support and care for people living with HIV (…) In each hospital, a different specialist team was responsible for caring for an ever-increasing population living with HIV. Many of those who needed care had pneumonia, acute diarrhea, or skin diseases,” said Godfrey-Faussett.
For the doctor, the arrival of increasingly effective treatments changed everything because different types of pills could be used that had specific results.
“Patients who were in the hospital began to realize that they were not going to die the following year nor in two years. The UK’s impressive healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS), and an extensive network of sexual health clinics made it possible for high-quality professional care and treatment to be freely available to everyone,” he said.