How to close the HIV information gap?

Worldwide, only about 84% of people living with HIV know their viral status. New recommendations aim to reach the remaining 16%.

HIV status is often unknown in people with the disease

There are regional disparities

Worldwide, a total of about 84% of all HIV-positive people know their virus carrier status. This means that about 16% are not aware of their status. However, there are significant regional differences. For example, the information gap, i.e. the number of people who do not know that they are infected with HIV, is much higher in the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia than in Central Europe and North America.

In addition, about 95% of those over 55 know that they are living with HIV, while this is only true of about 56% of 13- to 14-year-olds. The differences are therefore not only regional, but also age-dependent.

Barriers to testing also play a role

Even in the 21st century, barriers still exist that can make it difficult for those affected to get tested for HIV. Stigma, for example, or discrimination play an important role. In many parts of the world, access to medical care is also limited.

In many cases, this leads to a late diagnosis, which can be associated with an increased risk of complications and a more severe course of the disease. But it is not only the person affected who is exposed to a higher risk: The longer an HIV case remains undiagnosed, the more likely the patient is to infect other people.

New interventions can enable earlier testing

The WHO has therefore issued new recommendations aimed at reaching more infected people and enabling rapid therapies:

Conclusions relevant for medical practice

The WHO recommendations to close the information gap aim to reach all people who are unaware of their infection status. They allow for efficient and resource-oriented interventions that overcome the known barriers.

For more articles, please visit our dedicated AIDS 2022 congress page


Session: Accelerating the pace toward the end of the HIV pandemic. Babafemi TAIWO, Northwestern University, Reaching the undiagnosed, AIDS 2022, 30.7.2022