Scaling-up HIV testing is critical to end the AIDS epidemic in Asia-Pacific


There are over 10 different organizations that include sexually transmitted infection programs and HIV/AIDS programs as well as civil society and development groups that have come together to make sure that people with HIV are aware of their status and receive proper medical treatment. There was a very recent meeting which was headed by the World Health organization and the Joint United Nations program on HIV/AIDS in Manila.

Antiretrovirals reduce the number of HIV related deaths as well as their transmission and there has been research done to prove this. The trick is catching the infection early or else the success rate is much lower. The WHO Regional Director for The Western Pacific said that it is absolutely essential to get treatment early and that it is equally important that there are an increasing number of different ways to catch the infection.


Gay men, transgenders, sex workers, and people who do drugs all have a high chance of getting HIV, these are also the people who usually lack the proper knowledge of the disease and proper treatment. The UN has called this an epidemic as in 2013 only 1/3 of at risk groups actually knew about their HIV positive status so they set a goal to get this all changed by 2013. The goal is to have 90 percent of people aware of their status, have them get treatment, and have viral overloads. This goal needs to be met.

Steve Krauss, the UNAIDS Director said that the very most important thing to stopping the AIDS epidemic is to test people and catch it early because it is spreading due to people not knowing their status. And when this happens it multiplies very quickly because of the diseases infectious nature.

They say that the approaches for testing need to be more diversified in terms of how often and where they are done.. The tests need to be done both at local clinics and at the bigger hospitals, it needs to be available everywhere. Another issue is that there needs to be more voluntary testing as opposed to mandatory because that scares people away. The populations that are most at risk would benefit from the local community based clinic testing because they often feel stigmatized by the larger facilities.

These more local based tests can actually be done by someone who is close to the worker or whomever is at risk and only takes one quick screening. If there is a positive result then a follow up test is done to confirm. Places like Cambodia have started to do this and it seems to be quite successful. The director of the program director for the STD facility says that it’s very important to bring the testing close to home. Everyone involved is working to make sure that these tests are made more readily available.

#Test4HIV is the name that the WHO is coming up with for their upcoming launch of the AIDS awareness campaign to increase testing. The campaign should be promoted on all possible social media to increase awareness.

HIV Advocates which is a global initiative that aims to share news, experiences, strategies and new tools that aim to energize human rights movements and communities fighting HIV/AIDS, is the answer. Supported by Levi Strauss Foundation and powered by B-Change Foundation,  HIV Advocates encourages existing and would-be activists to explore the power of social media and other Internet avenues to help spread the message across – that discrimination and stigma no longer have any place in society and that society should accept the LGBT community members as they are.

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