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Innovation can help accelerate the end of AIDS

GENEVA, 1st December 2015 – As we commemorate World AIDS Day, the world has never been bolder in its ambition to end the AIDS pandemic. Success has never looked more attainable.

We have witnessed extraordinary progress since the turn of the millennium. Newly released figures from UNAIDS show 15.8 million people are now receiving anti-retroviral medicines -- an extraordinary achievement that only 15 years ago seemed entirely beyond our reach.

Of course, we know that formidable obstacles remain: 19 million people don’t know their HIV status and more than half of the 36.9 million people living with the virus are still without treatment.

At UNITAID we are convinced that innovation is key to overcoming barriers that stand in the way of ending  the AIDS epidemic. 

“World AIDS Day is a time to commemorate the millions of people who have died from this terrible disease,” said Philippe Douste-Blazy, Chair of UNITAID. “It is also a time to look forward with increasing confidence to the day when AIDS will no longer be the major public health challenge that it is now.  Accelerating the pace of innovation will play a big part in achieving that goal.” 

Inspired by the “90-90-90” global diagnosis and treatment targets, UNITAID is in the front line of the global response to HIV.

The three targets aim, by 2020, for 90 percent of all living with HIV to know their HIV status, for 90 percent of all living with HIV to receive antiretroviral therapy and for 90 percent of all receiving antiretroviral therapy to have viral suppression. This means reducing the virus to a point where it is undetectable, making transmission of HIV to another person unlikely.  UNITAID supports the 90-90-90 targets by working with partners to  identify strategic gaps that are holding back the global response to AIDS.

UNITAID funds the best ideas to catalyse health solutions that enable our partners to achieve the highest impact.

In an initiative unveiled on Monday this week, UNITAID is joining Population Services International (PSI) in a project to promote use of self-testing kits in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe among people who are not using existing HIV testing facilities, either because they fear their privacy will not be respected or because they live in remote areas. The kits will allow people to test themselves for HIV using a simple oral swab, wherever it is convenient for them to do so. They will know the result within minutes.

UNITAID is also focusing on new interventions to gather evidence on the use of new antiretroviral regimens with potential to meet a global need for simpler and better treatments and to ensure that they can be delivered efficiently in the best combinations and at affordable prices.

Separately, UNITAID is evaluating proposals to enable wider use, or "scale-up", of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a means of preventing HIV transmission, particularly among people who are at high risk of getting HIV, such as commercial sex workers and men who have sex with men. Several studies show that if PrEP is effective if taken as a pill every day.

If they are shown to be successful in the field, methods such as pre-exposure prophylaxis and HIV self-testing can be scaled up by countries and partner organizations such as the Global Fund and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). 

“When the best health solutions are adopted at full scale by our partners and are sustained, the global response to AIDS becomes faster and more effective,” said Lelio Marmora, UNITAID’s Executive Director.  “In so doing, our ultimate goal of ending the pandemic can be achieved.”


Media Contact: Andrew Hurst:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or +41(79) 561 68 07