UNAIDS, IFRC join forces to treat 15 million with HIV by 2015

The Joint U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS announced on Tuesday that it signed a memorandum of understanding to advance efforts to scale up HIV testing and treatment access.

UNAIDS will join the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to combine capacity and expertise to support the implementation of UNAIDS' Treatment 2015 initiative and develop a community model for scaling up HIV treatment access.

In the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, Member States of the U.N. committed to work toward ensuring 15 million people living with HIV could access antiretroviral treatment by 2015. By the close of 2012, approximately 10 million people with HIV had that access.

"Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers deliver health services to millions of people, including some of the most marginalized people in hard-to-reach communities," Michel Sidibé, the executive director of UNAIDS, said. "By supporting the volunteers, engaging people living with HIV and strengthening community-based services I strongly believe we will be able to exceed the target of reaching 15 million people with treatment by 2015."

UNAIDS estimates that approximately half of all people living with HIV are aware of their HIV status. Confidential and voluntary HIV testing is a central part of UNAIDS' Treatment 2015 initiative.

"The community health workforce has the capacity to provide almost 40% of HIV service-related tasks," Bekele Geleta, the secretary general of the IFRC, said. "Our decades of experience in HIV testing campaigns, treatment adherence and compliance will inform a successful community service delivery model like the one we are developing in Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria. The solution is at hand but the time to invest in decentralized services is now if we are to avert millions of deaths by 2015 and beyond."