29 November 2019 | Statements

Unitaid celebrates HIV milestones and explores cutting-edge medicines and tests

Geneva — Unitaid and partners have much to celebrate on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2019–milestones that deliver on the principles of innovation for all, access to health products in record time, and the central role of communities living with the disease in making the response more effective and efficient.

South Africa has launched a state-of-the-art HIV treatment that was made possible by a number of Unitaid-supported projects in concert with communities. The move will allow one in five people on HIV treatment globally to switch to a simpler, more effective and affordable regimen that also minimizes the development of drug-resistance. This is why Unitaid refers to its projects as catalytic: small, time-limited investments that save and improve the lives of millions.

On the prevention and testing side, MTV Staying Alive Foundation and Solthis launched the French version of the award-winning TV series MTV Shuga in the Ivory Coast. The script weaves messages about HIV prevention and self-testing into the storylines to raise awareness among youth, building on the success of the show among English-speaking audiences. Viewers of MTV Shuga are twice as likely to get tested for HIV six months after watching the drama, according to a World Bank study.

Over the past five years, Unitaid has more than doubled its HIV portfolio, which hit US$510 in 2019. Investments supported the introduction of  affordable self-testing in Africa, new antiretroviral regimens, and prevention for TB and HIV—innovations that have reached many millions of people. All of these innovations were introduced with the close involvement of civil society. Together with countries and partners such as WHO, the Global Fund and PEPFAR, Unitaid will continue to seek out innovative solutions that make the best use of healthcare resources and are easy for countries and people living with HIV to use.

The next stop is the Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Africa (ICASA), taking place in Kigali, Rwanda, 2-7 December. A Unitaid delegation will be present to share insights and plans for tackling the epidemic and its related diseases. Alongside partners, the organization will discuss innovations such as test-and-treat kits for less than US $1 to prevent cervical cancer; medicines and tests to reduce AIDS deaths; and long-acting technologies expected to transform HIV treatment as we know it.

Unitaid’s HIV Disease Narrative 2019, launched on the occasion of World AIDS Day, provides a glimpse of what the future might hold for the fight against HIV and related diseases. The report examines the potential for innovations such as immunotherapies; new and better-adapted pediatric medicines like Quadrimune, an HIV medicine for babies that comes in strawberry-flavored granules and is awaiting FDA and WHO approvals; long-acting medicines such as patches or injections; medicines for sexually transmitted infections that do not respond to mainstay drugs, and better ways to cure noncommunicable diseases in people living with the virus.

For media enquiries:

Carol MASCIOLA, masciolac@unitaid.who.int

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