Marking World AIDS Day in a COVID-19 world
Marking World AIDS Day in 2020 will be very different. The theme this year is global solidarity and shared responsibility, requiring all of us to come together to ensure that health is fully financed, health systems are bolstered to ensure the provision of equitable access to lifesaving medicines, and diagnostics and human rights are respected. In 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day. It provides an opportunity for people across the world to come together in the fight against HIV, to offer support for those who are living with the virus, as well as remembering those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. COVID-19 is also bringing people together globally in attempts to fight the pandemic and to minimise the increasing number of deaths and associated morbidity.
The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in the UK continues to decrease. The fall in new diagnoses is showing that prevention tools are working, for example, frequent testing and access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). However, there are concerns: the decline seen in recent years is slowing and is less steep in some areas outside London and among some communities (National AIDS Trust, 2020). Late diagnosis remains high, with 1279 people diagnosed late in 2019 (Public Health England (PHE), 2020), suggesting that testing strategies may not be reaching enough people. National AIDS Trust (2020) is calling for a significant increase in opportunities to offer testing for HIV outside of sexual health clinics and a quicker roll-out of PrEP, including health promotion activities that are targeted at specific populations, for example, women and those from black African communities.
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