HIV testing, detecting, treating

World Council of Churches launches campaign for HIV testing on World AIDS Day

Ddecember 01, 2016

HIV-positive test result (archive photo: epd-Bild/Ulrich Döring)

HIV-positive test result (archive photo: epd-Bild/Ulrich Döring)

Geneva (epd). On World AIDS Day, 1 December, the World Council of Churches launched a new campaign to detect HIV. Religious leaders were to be tested for HIV and to set the example, Francesca Merico, told epd (Protestant press service) in Geneva. An Italian lawyer, she coordinates the WCC campaign against AIDS.

Against prejudice and stigmatisation

Olay Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, and other religious leaders had promised to take part in the testing so as to encourage the members of their faith communities to do the same.

The WCC intends to combat prejudice and stigmatization with the campaign, underlined Francesca Meri. Many people did not go for testing out of shame, or because they feared social disadvantage or discrimination, she said. Some people did not even know that there were such tests or did not have access to them.

Life-extending treatment only with clarity on the infection

According to estimates, less than half of those with HIV know about their health condition, said Merico. However, receiving life-extending treatment presupposes the awareness of having HIV, she added, giving the figure of those currently receiving antiretroviral medication as 18 million.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 36.7 million people live with HIV/AIDS. The focus of the worldwide epidemic still lies in Sub-Saharan African countries, where over 25 million people lived with HIV/AIDS in 2015. In the Asia/Pacific Region there were over five million people with the virus, according to UNAIDS and about 2.4 million people in western Europe and North America.

UNAIDS reports that about 2.1 million people were first infected with the virus in 2015, and 1.1 million have died of AIDS-related illnesses since then. The WCC, with its 348 member churches, has been campaigning against HIV/AIDS for many years.

Jan Dirk Herbermann (epd)




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