New global strategy on HIV set to prevent millions of infections, deaths

Feature story
23 May 2011

Today the Sixty-Fourth World Health Assembly unanimously adopted a new, comprehensive strategy to combat HIV. The Global Health Sector Strategy on HIV/AIDS, 2011-2015 will guide actions by WHO and governments around the world during this critical time for the future of the HIV response.

At least 4.2 million new HIV infections would be averted and 2 million lives could be saved, if WHO's existing HIV treatment recommendations were fully implemented in 2011-2015, according to UNAIDS estimates. Under the new Strategy, WHO aims to promote even greater innovation in HIV prevention, treatment, testing and care services so that countries can achieve the goal of universal access to HIV services.

Better integration, broader outcomes

Every day, over 7 000 people are newly infected with HIV and about 5 000 die from AIDS. Simpler and more affordable treatment and prevention are urgently needed. Delivery of HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care services must be better linked and integrated with other health services such as those for maternal and child health, tuberculosis and hepatitis, among others.

"We know what needs to be done and now we have a new strategy to do it more efficiently and effectively," said Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. "Over the next five years, the new Global Health Sector Strategy on HIV/AIDS will guide WHO and governments around the world as we jointly combat HIV in ways that also contribute to stronger health services."

Global goals can be a reality

The Global Health Sector Strategy on HIV/AIDS outlines four strategic directions for 2011-2015:

  • To optimize HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care outcomes
  • To leverage broader health outcomes through HIV responses
  • To build strong and sustainable health systems
  • To address inequalities and advance human rights.

The Strategy has been developed as the health sector contribution to achieving the UNAIDS vision of Zero new infections, Zero AIDS-related deaths and Zero Discrimination. Rolling out the new Strategy will require a robust global effort; but if fully implemented, will enable countries to attain the Millennium Development Goal related to HIV by 2015.