World AIDS Day 2018, marked every 1 December, UNAIDS said it was focusing on HIV testing with a new report showing that intensified testing and treatment efforts are reaching more people living with HIV.
The report said that three quarters of people living with HIV knew their HIV status in 2017, compared to just two thirds in 2015, and 21.7 million people living with HIV, or 59 percent, had access to antiretroviral therapy, up from 17.2 million in 2015.
Thobani Ncapai lives in Khayelitsha, a township in Western Cape Town in South Africa. He found out he was HIV positive in 1997. At the time he said he had no information about HIV and he was scared not to see his son grow up. He said most of the men in his community do not want to go for HIV testing “so it’s a huge problem in our communities.”
2001, he was losing a lot of weight and feeling sick. He became the first person in his hometown to start HIV treatment.
Ncapai felt hope and now feels like any other person. Not only has he seen his son grow up but he’s also had a baby girl.
HIV is preventable and if not treated it can lead to AIDS. Once a person knows their status, if it’s positive then antiretroviral treatment can be started immediately. Not only can a person live a long and healthy life by taking treatment every day, the virus also becomes nearly undetectable in a person’s blood and therefore the person no longer transmits HIV.
UNAIDS said is the only way to know for sure if you have HIV. If you think you may have been at risk of acquiring HIV, it is important to find out your HIV status and start treatment as soon as possible if the result is positive.
The UNAIDS report titled “Knowledge is power” revealed that although the number of people living with HIV who are virally suppressed has risen by around ten percent in the past three years, reaching 47 percent in 2017, 19.4 million people living with HIV still do not have a suppressed viral load. To remain healthy and to prevent transmission, the virus needs to be suppressed to undetectable or very low levels through sustained antiretroviral therapy. UNAIDS