At the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, it was hard to imagine ending the AIDS epidemic.
As we approach the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, on December 1, we celebrate the tremendous progress made, and focus on working together to banish this epidemic to the history books.
Shooting for the Goal
While there is not a cure for HIV, we have made significant progress in testing and treating the virus, plus monitoring how people are responding to treatment – moving us closer to ending the epidemic. Today, three out of four people living with HIV know their status, a vital first step to getting treatment. And thanks to sustained access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), people with HIV are living longer and healthier lives.
As we work together to continue the fight against this global epidemic, goals have been set to reach specific targets so that AIDS is no longer a threat to our public health. To meet these targets, experts from the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) established the 90-90-90 plan to step up the HIV response so that by 2020:
- 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status
- 90 percent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained ART
- 90 percent of all people receiving ART will have viral suppression
To make these goals a reality, the global health community must accelerate efforts for people to get tested, putting outreach programs in place that meet the needs in different parts of the world.
Testing is Key
For more than 30 years, Abbott has helped in the fight against HIV and AIDS. We’re especially proud of our scientists who worked nonstop to develop the first HIV blood test, approved by the U.S. FDA in 1985, and of our team of Virus Hunters who relentlessly search the globe for signs of new strains of the virus.
Abbott's broad range of tests span the entire continuum of care for people at risk for HIV or living with the virus whether they are getting treatment at a public health clinic in Chicago or living in a remote village in Uganda. Abbott’s tests are also used to screen more than 60 percent of the world’s blood supply, helping keep it safe from infectious diseases.
While significant progress has been made, one challenge in reaching the 90-90-90 goals is making testing technology accessible to everyone, including people living in remote areas. Outside of the U.S., Abbott is helping address this issue with the collection of a few drops of dried blood on a special paper. These samples can be transported without immediate refrigeration for testing, making it possible for clinicians to monitor their patients’ HIV treatment response.
An additional gap that needs to be addressed is diagnosing HIV in infants, for whom time is of the essence because nearly half of HIV-positive babies who don't receive timely treatment die before they reach the age of two. Outside of the U.S., Abbott is tackling this challenge by providing an early infant diagnosis test that offers same-day results at the point of care. Mothers often travel many miles to bring their babies for a doctor's visit, so being able to provide same-visit results enables faster access to HIV treatment.
We Could Make It Happen
No one organization can end the AIDS epidemic on its own. Over the years, Abbott has established several partnerships to increase access to testing to key populations.
The global health community has the tools and technology to help create a future in which AIDS is no longer a threat to our public health. But it’s going to take all of us working together, using all the tools at our disposal, to do so. On World AIDS Day and every day, let’s do our part to put an end to this epidemic. Talk to your doctor and encourage others to get tested for HIV.