WHO commends UNITAID for new investment in advanced HIV disease, hepatitis

13 June 2017 - The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes UNITAID’s announcement of new investment in more integrated care to improve the health of people living with HIV, hepatitis and human papillomavirus (HPV). The UNITAID Board announced that the organization has expanded its investments to fund projects to increase treatment access for people with advanced HIV disease, coinfected with viral hepatitis, or cervical cancer.

"The new transversal approach by UNITAID is "a breath of fresh air" in the current global health funding environment," said Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of Department of HIV and the Global Hepatitis Programme. "This is exactly the kind of flexibility countries need to be able to address the highest priorities in their HIV, TB, hepatitis and related programmes. This approach will help to enhance the impact of HIV-focused investments by reducing deaths from comorbidities that would otherwise remain undiagnosed and untreated."

People with advanced HIV disease account for nearly half of all people with HIV and often they have multiple coinfections. WHO will be issuing new guidelines addressing advanced HIV disease next month at the International AIDS Society Conference in Paris.

“Ultimately we want to ensure that people living with HIV do not die from other related illnesses,” said Lelio Marmora, Executive Director of UNITAID. “We are capitalizing on our investments to date in HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, and adopting a more holistic approach to health that breaks down the disease siloes.”

This approach aims to achieve greater impact from investments in several disease areas, at the same time, helping national health systems save costs and gain efficiencies. It is also hoped to catalyse action by other donors, to support countries and implementers plan and deliver integrated and person-centred health care. Such an approach will be essential if universal health coverage targets are to be achieved.