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When you look at the facts surrounding the global AIDS epidemic, there seem to be many reasons for hope.

More people have access to antiretroviral therapy, which slows the reproduction of the virus and enables those with HIV to lead normal lives.

  • In 2015, 17 million people living with HIV were undergoing antiretroviral therapy, up from 15 million in 2014.
  • 49 per cent of children living with HIV had access to treatment in 2015, up from 21 per cent in 2010.

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New HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen since 2000.

  • 1 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2015, down from 3.2 million in 2000.
  • HIV infections among children dropped to 150,000 in 2015 from 490,000 in 2000.
  • Deaths recorded as AIDS-related have dropped by 45 per cent since a peak in 2004.

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Despite the positive trends, the number of people affected by HIV/AIDS is still staggering.

  • 7 million people worldwide were living with HIV at the end of 2015 – that’s more than the population of Canada.
  • 1 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2015.
  • 35 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.
Helping to end the AIDS epidemic

South Africa has one of the highest prevalence rates of HIV and AIDS in the world and the highest number of people living with HIV. This is why we have been helping people there for nearly a decade.

Our integrated HIV/tuberculosis (TB) programme in KwaZulu-Natal, on South Africa’s east coast, is now in its ninth year.

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Why does the programme cover both HIV and TB? Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, accounting for around one in three AIDS-related deaths.

Working with the South African Red Cross, we have provided care and support to more than 50,000 people in the last year alone.

Find out more about the programme and what we are doing.

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We are now entering the programme’s ninth year as we look to support UNAIDS’ ambitious 90-90-90 target to end the AIDS epidemic.

It sets out that by 2020:

  • 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their status
  • 90 per cent of all people with HIV will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy
  • 90 per cent of people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

During the next phase of our HIV/TB work, the programme will support the South African Red Cross to provide services directly in the community and in people’s homes.

This will support the government’s healthcare programmes and, ultimately, strengthen the local health system.

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For example, Red Cross volunteers talk to school and community groups about the benefits of getting HIV tests.

They also pay for people’s travel costs and go to the clinics with them to be tested.

If a test is positive, our teams will support people to take their medication regularly. We’ll also provide food parcels if this added support will help them continue with their treatment.

The Red Cross also runs psychological and emotional support groups for people with HIV and for orphans whose parents have died of AIDS.

Prevention is an important part of the programme as well, and the Red Cross:

  • distributes condoms
  • supports peer education including discussing gender-based violence
  • shares information about reproductive health, other health topics and how to prevent infection.

If we suspect people might have TB, we also refer them for testing.

The programme is an exciting phase as we continue to work towards ending this epidemic and building a healthier future for people in KwaZulu-Natal.

All HIV/AIDS statistics come from UNAIDS