HIV and the Church

“AIDS is not over, but it can be.”- Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS Executive Director

As a part of their sustainable development goals, UNAIDS has cast the vision to meet a set of ambitious global targets by 2020 through their “Fast-Track” strategy to lower new HIV infections, improve the outcomes of those living with HIV through greater access to antiretroviral medication (ARVs), and to lower total AIDS-related deaths. Through aggressive action to meet these targets, UNAIDS believes that the end of the AIDS pandemic can be seen by 2030. With the start of a new year, and only three years until 2020, it is helpful to examine these benchmarks to gain insight on the progress that has been made towards reaching the Fast-Track goals, and to refocus efforts where progress is stalling.


A primary goal of the UNAIDS Fast-Track strategy is to lower the number of new HIV infections. Success in this goal was measured from 2000 to 2015, as the number of new HIV infections reported fell from 3.2 to 2.1 million.  By 2020, the UNAIDS Fast-Track goal aims that there will be less than 500,000 new infections globally. To further understand where the successes lie in this benchmark, and to identify areas where progress has slowed, it is helpful to break down the data by various demographic groups. The global community can celebrate that the rate of new HIV infections among children has declined 50% since 2010. However, in that same time period, there has been no decline in new HIV infections among adults. By further stratifying infection rates by gender and age group, we can further identify the specific populations requiring the greatest emphasis on HIV prevention to reach the ultimate goal of reducing total HIV infection rates.


Another important goal is to see a drastic increase in the number of people living with HIV accessing ARVs. These therapies allow HIV positive individuals to lead relatively healthy lives. Through adherence to ARV regimes, those living with HIV are less likely to transmit the virus to others, and the physical progression of the disease will slow. Antiretroviral therapies currently enable 18.2 million people globally to manage their infection. By 2020, the Fast-Track target is to reach 30 million people with effective medication. Because the HIV pandemic affects individuals in both regions that have readily available treatment options and those that have great barriers to care, the delivery of medication remains a hurdle to universal access to treatment.


Efforts focused on HIV prevention and treatment serve the dual focus of also offsetting AIDS-related death rates, a final Fast-Track goal presented by UNAIDS. Focused scale-up efforts of HIV therapies has a demonstrated relationship to lower rates of AIDS-related deaths. Following a peak number of AIDS-related deaths in 2005, the global community placed a stronger emphasis on treatment scale-up, and rates of AIDS-related deaths decreased by 45% in 10 years, with an estimated 1.1 million AIDS-related deaths in 2015. The Fast-Track strategy envisioned by UNAIDS would like to see total AIDS-related deaths dip below 500,000 by 2020.


With only 3 years remaining until we reach 2020, the global community must begin prioritizing how these Fast-Track goals can be met. However, there will never be a government powerful enough, an NGO with all-sufficient funds, nor any one leader visionary enough to reach the end of AIDS. To beat a rapidly growing problem, you must find a solution growing faster. We believe the local church is a key player, and often untapped resource, in ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic. With the widest distribution, the fastest proliferation, the strongest authorization, and the highest motivation, there is no group in the global community that is better equipped to tackle this global giant.


You can be a part of equipping and empowering the local church to care for people living with HIV! For more information on how you can get involved in getting to zero locally or globally email us at



•   Fact sheet November 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved January 05, 2017, from en/resources/fact-sheet

•   Get on the Fast-Track - The life-cycle approach to HIV. (n.d.). Retrieved January 05, 2017, from 

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