Ensuring everyone with HIV a long and healthy life
The 12 MILLION CAMPAIGN is engaging faith leaders, individuals and communities to promote access to health services to the 12 million children, women and men living with HIV who are not yet on antiretroviral treatment.
HIV Treatment Access — Today, 38 million people, including 1.8 million children, are living with HIV. Among them, 25 million people with HIV (67%) are accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally. Only half of the 1.8 million children living with HIV has access to HIV medications. This means that 12 million children, women and men urgently need support to access to treatment. People with HIV who are aware of their status, take ART daily as prescribed, and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long, healthy lives and have no risk of transmitting HIV to others, including their HIV-negative partners. Indeed, HIV treatment access is key to the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat.
81% know their HIV status
82% of all people who know their status are accessing ART
88% of all people receiving ART are virally suppressed
HIV Testing - Testing is the essential first step to accessing treatment. Today, 19% of all people who live with HIV are not aware of their status and for children this is 40%. HIV testing is an essential gateway to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services. Welcoming and supportive places of worship and faith communities are essential for people to seek for services for HIV, including HIV self-testing, care and support.
HIV Care & Support – Once a person is diagnosed with HIV, they must be linked to medical care: start HIV medicines, take them daily as prescribed; and adhere to the treatment regimen prescribed. This will lead to suppress HIV to undetectable levels in the blood. Today, we know that when a person living with HIV is on treatment and has a suppressed viral load, HIV cannot be transmitted to others (Undetectable = Untransmittable). Therefore, it is vitally important that all HIV-positive people have access to quality treatment that is comprehensive and holistic: physical, psychosocial and spiritual.
Ensuring that HIV-positive people and children have access to quality ARVs, remain on treatment, adhere to it and have their viral load suppressed is key to the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat. There is so much that we can do together do make this happens!
A Justice Issue - The vast majority of people living with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries:
20.7 million people with HIV (54%) live in Eastern and Southern Africa;
4.9 million (13%) in Western and Central Africa;
5.8 million (15%) in Asia and the Pacific ; and
2.2 million (6%) in Western and Central Europe and North America.
However, there is unequal progress in increasing access to treatment around the world and many of the countries hardest hit by HIV also suffer from other diseases and injustices, such as tuberculosis and malaria, food insecurity, instability caused by conflicts, environmental disasters, political and social instability. COVID-19 has exacerbated all these problems. It has created challenges on supplies of the generic antiretroviral medicines used to treat HIV in low- and middle-income countries; and the lockdowns and border closures are impacting both the production of medicines and their distribution, potentially leading to increases in their cost and to supply issues. In addition, COVID-19 has increased levels of stigma.
Outside of low- and middle-income countries, many of those living with HIV are part of communities that experience health disparities due to lower incomes; less access to health services and other psycho-social services; social marginalization; and the compounding effects of multiple health, economic, and social-structural barriers.
The role of Faith Leaders and Communities
Faith communities and leaders have a moral responsibility to act to promote access to prevention, treatment, care and support to all. Their position of trust and respect within their faith communities and society at large enable them to reach people from the “halls” of political and policy-making power to the grassroots level. Religious and spiritual leaders can be a strong voice in favor of supportive legal, regulatory and social environments that advance human rights, gender equality, social justice goals, and call for successful strategies for HIV prevention, testing, treatment, care and support.
As religious leaders and members of faith communities, we hold positions of trust. With this trust comes much responsibility to do our utmost to follow God’s teachings, and to nourish the spiritual and physical well-being of our congregants. In light of this, we believe to have a responsibility to raise awareness within our communities and to be strong voices at global level about the impacts of the HIV epidemic and other co-infections, including tuberculosis.
The 12 Million Campaign
Actions to support the Campaign include: