12.5 million Africans who have AIDS are unaware of their condition

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said about 12.5 million people out of the 25.5 million Africans living with HIV are unaware of their HIV status.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, in a message to commemorate the World AIDS Day said the 12.5 million people living with HIV are in sub-Sahara Africa, adding that about 13.4 million others do not have access to antiretroviral therapy, the drugs used for the treatment of HIV or AIDS.

Dr Moeti, in the message, said statistics of HIV infection in the region indicated that sub-Saharan Africa remains the most affected in the world with nearly 26 million people living with the infection as at 2015.

“Despite making considerable progress since 2000, with both new infections and deaths dropping by over 40% by 2015, Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the region most affected in the world, with almost 26 million people living with the infection in 2015. Over 2 million are children under the age of 15, which is 90% of the global burden of HIV/AIDS among children. The region experienced nearly three-quarters more deaths due to HIV than any other; about 800 000 people died in 2015 alone,” he said.

He noted that discrimination, stigma, “gender inequality and gender-based violence continue to hinder access to health services, particularly for children, adolescents, young women and key populations most at risk.”

He said conflicts and emergencies like the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast have collapsed health systems and obstructed access to treatment for displaced persons.

“The full benefits of HIV interventions and services are not being realized in the Region,” he maintained.

Though he commended leaders in the region for their political commitment towards the HIV/AIDS eradication, he spoke of the need to continue to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals which was adopted by world leaders in September 2015 to end the AIDS epidemic by year 2030.

He said the World AIDS Day on 1 December was a chance to unite against HIV, “show support for people living with HIV/AIDS, and remember those who have died.”

This year’s theme (“Hands up for HIV Prevention”) highlights HIV prevention issues like “access and the right to health, zero discrimination, testing and condoms in relation to specific groups such as adolescent girls and young women, key populations such as sex workers, and people living with HIV, to ensure no one is left behind.”