20 Jul Amsterdam on the way to becoming an AIDS-free city
Amsterdam on the way to becoming an AIDS-free city
Amsterdam is one of the first European cities to call a halt to HIV and AIDS once and for all. According to the latest report published by UNAIDS on the eve of the international AIDS conference in Paris, Amsterdam has already reached the international UN targets. This is partly due to the unique, ground-breaking work of the H-TEAM (HIV Transmission Elimination AMsterdam), which is striving to increase efforts even further to achieve the goal of no more new HIV infections in the city.
UN targets : 90-90-90
All UN member states have agreed that, by 2030, AIDS should have been eliminated from the world. To achieve this, significant steps need to have been taken by 2020: 90% of all people with HIV should have been tested and know that they have HIV; 90% of these people should be receiving treatment; and in 90% of those people on treatment, the virus should be suppressed so that it can no longer be transmitted. These are hard numbers that every country and city is now working to achieve.
In Amsterdam, where more than a quarter of the people with HIV in the Netherlands live, the following percentages have now been achieved: 94-90-94.
For this reason, the newly-published UNAIDS report on the latest figures for the global fight against HIV has highlighted the city of Amsterdam, saying: “In Amsterdam, 100-100-100 is the next stop!” .
Prof. Peter Reiss, project leader of the Amsterdam H-TEAM: “Through close collaboration between all the parties combatting HIV in Amsterdam, scientists, doctors, HIV physicians, politicians, lobbyists, and people living with HIV or who are at increased risk of becoming infected with HIV, we can reach that target. We are working on HIV prevention, increased testing and rapid treatment of HIV. This is the formula for success. The number of HIV diagnoses in the city has halved in the last 5 years. We have shown other cities, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the world, that it is possible to successfully suppress the HIV epidemic.”
The end of HIV in Amsterdam was one of the ambitious missions of leading AIDS researcher, Professor Joep Lange. Just before the fatal MH-17 flight in July 2014, Joep launched a special project in Amsterdam, namely the H-TEAM. Exactly three years later, the same H-TEAM is presenting the results achieved so far and being praised for their innovative approach at the international scientific AIDS conference, IAS 2017, in Paris.
The last mile
Although the end of the HIV epidemic may be in sight in Amsterdam, it has not yet been achieved. The H-TEAM realizes that this last step is actually the hardest. Moreover, figures show that of those people receiving an HIV diagnosis, 45% still seek medical care too late and are already very ill when they do so. Earlier detection and preventing new infections remain the challenge.
Dr Godelieve De Bree, the H-TEAM’s scientific coordinator, says: “Amsterdam can and must do even better to reach the finish line of no more new HIV infections. This requires extra efforts involving all available preventive measures, including the HIV prevention pill, PrEP, combined with earlier testing and immediate treatment to prevent new HIV infections occurring.”