An end to the AIDS epidemic is possible, but only with better access to HIV testing and treatment, say IFRC and GNP+

Published: 17 July 2014

Cape Town/Geneva/Melbourne, 18 July 2014: Access to testing, counselling, treatment and care, as well as a lack of knowledge of one’s HIV status are the biggest barriers to accessing life-saving treatment and care, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) highlighted today, in the lead-up to the 20th International AIDS Conference starting on Sunday in Melbourne.

Globally, an estimated 35.3 million people now live with HIV, but approximately only half know their status. Further, two in three treatment-eligible individuals are unable to access the HIV treatment they need, which is critical to keeping the body’s viral load low. This is an alarming figure.

“Early knowledge about one’s HIV status is critical, as it means people can seek treatment, care and further support,” said Matthias Schmale, acting Secretary General at the IFRC, which, with over 17 million volunteers worldwide, is at the frontline of the community health work. “The engagement and inclusion of the community at large, people living with HIV and the health volunteers at all stages of the treatment continuum has been documented by many organizations as the most effective and sustainable solution to ensuring that no one is left out.”

According to recent studies, HIV treatment not only prolongs life among people living with HIV by five decades, but can reduce the risk of HIV transmission between sexual partners by up to 96 per cent, decrease the spread of tuberculosis and prevent mother-to-child transmission. Scaling up community-led testing and treatment services may generate economic returns up to three times the investment.

Over 30 years since the discovery of HIV, poverty, marginalization, fear and stigma are still at the heart of preventing people from accessing health services they need. This is in addition to a frequent lack of health facilities, commodities and trained medical staff in many low- and middle-income countries and fragile states, which is also hampering efforts to improve these rates.

“All being able to live within a framework of positive health, dignity, and prevention is essential to the HIV response. However many people living with HIV experience stigma and discrimination on multiple levels, including in health care settings due to fear and ignorance surrounding HIV transmission,” said Suzette Moses-Burton, Executive Director at GNP+. “This stigma is most pronounced in those communities at greatest risk. In particular, sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender people and drug users may be criminalized, or experience discrimination or marginalization when they seek health services, leading many to avoid seeking essential care.”

Ahead of the 2014 International AIDS Conference, GNP+ and the IFRC are insisting no one in need of treatment and care should be left behind, calling upon governments to bring testing and treatment services closer to where people live and remove legal, social and economic barriers that prevent equitable access to these services.

For further information and to set up interviews, please contact:

In Melbourne

  • Ombretta Baggio | IFRC Geneva | tel. +41 (0) 79 708 48 27 |
  • Jessica Sallabank | IFRC Melbourne |  tel +61 (0)4 55279134 |

In Cape Town

In Geneva


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the worlds largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 million people each year through its 189 member National Societies. Together, IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.



Global Network of People Living With HIV (GNP+) is the global network for and by people living with HIV. Its mission is to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV. The vision is a powerful and united worldwide social movement of people living with HIV, with their leadership and voices at the centre of the HIV response. GNP+s objective is equitable access to health and social services for people living with HIV by focusing on social justice, rights and involvement. This will be achieved through GNPs purpose, which is to promote the greater and more meaningful involvement of people living with HIV in programme and policy development (the GIPA principle). For more information, please visit You can also connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.