Over the past decade, remarkable progress has been achieved in the global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Access to HIV prevention, testing and counseling, and care and treatment has expanded dramatically in low and middle income countries. The annual number of people infected HIV continues to decline and there are fewer annual deaths from people dying of HIV/AIDS. More pregnant women living with HIV are being referred to antiretroviral therapy to prevent transmission of the virus to their child than ever before.
While there has been a great deal of success, still far too many people are becoming infected with HIV, getting sick, and dying. At the end of 2010, an estimated 34 million people were living with HIV globally, including 3.4 million children under 15 years. A total of 2.7 million people were newly infected with HIV, and of those eligible for antiretroviral treatment, only 47% received the treatment they need.
In a time of financial constraint, continued focus on expanding access to HIV prevention and care and treatment is critical. Direct Relief is focused on providing diagnostic supplies, medicines, and medical equipment to improve care for people living with or at risk of HIV infection. Through collaboration with Ministries of Health and nongovernmental organizations in 45 developing countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America, Direct Relief equips front-line healthcare with the supplies they need to provide HIV testing, treatment, and support for people living with or at risk of HIV infection.
Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV
90 percent of all children living with HIV acquire the virus from their mother during pregnancy, labor, or breastfeeding. The first step in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV is ensuring that pregnant women know their HIV status. Direct Relief, with support of partners Abbott and the Abbott Fund, distributes Determine® rapid HIV tests to testing and counseling programs focused on prevention of mother-to-child transmission in 43 developing countries. Rapid HIV tests allow any testing program in a remote setting to share test results in 15 minutes, regardless of access to lab equipment or electricity. By ensuring pregnant women know their HIV status and enrolling those that are HIV positive in appropriate care and treatment, the HIV transmission rate from mother to child can be reduced to less than 5 percent, according to UNAIDS. In June 2012, the Determine Donation Program partners announced the distribution of 20 million rapid tests.
Treating Opportunistic Infections in People Living with HIV/AIDS
In 2010, Direct Relief became the implementing partner for the Diflucan® Partnership Program, a Pfizer global initiative that makes available Diflucan® to support treatment of opportunistic infections for people living with HIV. Diflucan® (fluconazole) is an essential anti-fungal medicine which has an important place in many National HIV/AIDS treatment programs. The Diflucan Partnership Program targets two opportunistic infections—esophageal candidiasis and cryptococcal meningitis—serious conditions with painful symptoms, and in the case of cryptococcal meningitis, can be life-threatening if gone untreated. Diflucan® helps people living with HIV manage their opportunistic infections and promotes their ability to live more healthy, productive lives. In 2011, which marked the ten-year anniversary of the Partnership, Direct Relief distributed Diflucan to Ministries of Health and non-governmental organizations in 18 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with a total wholesale value of over $200 million.
Source for statistics: UNAIDS 2011
- 2.6 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2009, 370,000 of them children under age 15.
- The second-largest affected area after sub-Saharan Africa is Southeast Asia, with an estimated 4.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS.
- The number of people in low- and middle-income countries receiving antiretroviral therapy reached an estimated 5.2 million in 2009.
- 16.6 million children have lost their parents to HIV as of 2009.
- Facts about HIV/AIDS from around the world are courtesy of UNAIDS.