The HIV response now has more biomedical tools than ever before that can help bring an end to AIDS. But these tools mean nothing unless people have access to information on them, which they can use to make informed-decisions.
Take injectable PrEP. In October 2022, Zimbabwe became the first non-high-income country to approve its use for people at high risk of HIV. More recently, South Africa announced the first of a number of injectable PrEP pilots, and Botswana, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda are likely to follow suit. This means that, more people will soon have genuine choice when it comes to HIV prevention. But people can only exercise that choice if they can get accurate, up-to-date, action-orientated information about injectable PrEP – what it does, how it works, whether it has any side-effects, where to get it – communicated in ways they will engage with and trust.
Or look at HIV treatment. The progress that many countries have made in ensuring more people now have access is incredible. But what is proving more challenging is enabling people to stay on treatment long-term. One of the issues here is treatment literacy. Understanding how treatment works, when and how to take it, what happens if you miss doses, the importance of treatment monitoring, the impact of nutrition, the options for swapping to different treatment if yours stops working – all of these things improve people’s experiences of HIV treatment, which can help them adhere to it. Having access to this information can address the health inequality that results in some people being on sub-standard, ineffective treatment.
That’s why, this World AIDS Day, we are standing in solidarity with UNAIDS’ Equalize agenda, and all those in the world who still experience barriers born of inequality that stop them claiming their right to good health – a right that all of us, no matter who we are, are entitled to.