Health & Fitness

Laxity risks causing HIV resurgence, study warns

people are living with HIV
About 1.6 million people are living with HIV in Kenya with around 30 per cent of these cases undiagnosed. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Complacency in response to the HIV pandemic could trigger a resurgence of infections, a new global report has warned.

Stalling of HIV funding in recent years puts to danger efforts to control the illness, said experts at The Lancet and the International Aids Society.

“The HIV response and the broader global health field must work together. Despite the remarkable progress of the HIV response, the situation has stagnated in the past decade. Reinvigorating this work will be demanding, but the future health and wellbeing of millions of people require that we meet this challenge,” says lead commissioner Dr Linda-Gail Bekker, president of the International Aids Society and Professor at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

The report employs mathematical models to investigate the benefits of combining HIV fight with other health services. About 37 million people worldwide live with HIV or Aids, with about 1.8 million new cases every year.

New cases of HIV/Aids have been falling in recent years, but the Lancet Commission said the fall was too slow to reach the UNAids target of 500,000 new infections by 2020.

About 1.6 million people are living with HIV in Kenya with around 30 per cent of these cases undiagnosed.

The experts called for an immediate increase in funding and for a more multi-faceted approach to screening and managing the disease.

This would involve building the capacity for health care professionals to address multiple health problems simultaneously.

In Kenya, the authors modelled combining screening for HIV, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Non-communicable diseases account for 27 per cent of all deaths in Kenya and 50 per cent of all hospital admissions, largely because people are diagnosed late and thus have poorer treatment outcomes.

The report says if the combined screening reached 10 per cent of the Kenyan population every year over the next decade (2018 to 2028), and ART coverage reached 78 per cent by 2028, then over 216,000 new HIV cases and 244,000 Aids deaths would be averted.