The United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS) released its new report this week. Entitled “Seize the moment, fight rooted inequalities to end epidemics“, The document takes stock of this global epidemic almost overshadowed by the new coronavirus.
For the 90-90-90 target (90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of all people infected with HIV screened receive long-term anti retroviral treatment and 90% of people receiving antiretroviral treatment have a permanently suppressed viral load), the new report cites Morocco among the countries that are on the right track.
As a result, the kingdom has succeeded in achieving two parts of this goal: that of people living with HIV who know their status and are undergoing treatment and that of people on treatment and whose viral load has been suppressed. According to the UNAIDS 90-90-90 Morocco dashboard, 77% Moroccans living with HIV know their status in 2019. This percentage varies between 87% for women and 68% only for men.
As for the second part of the objective, in relation to treatment, 91% of people tested positive (90% women and 89% men) receive antiretroviral treatment. 92% of people receiving this treatment have a permanently suppressed viral load (92% of women and 92% of men).
However, for the percentage of people living with HIV whose viral load is suppressed, the rate drops to 64% for all ages. It ranges from 73% for women to only 55% for men, the report continues. In all, 8,900 women and 12,000 men are living with HIV in Morocco.
Improved access to screening and treatment services in Morocco
UNAIDS specifies that “knowledge of HIV status, access to treatment and viral suppression varies between men and women living with HIV in the MENA region”. “Access to screening and treatment services is improving in certain countries, such as Algeria and Morocco”, we recognize, while deploring that “due to the low coverage of services in several other countries, only 38% [25–63%] people living with HIV in the region had access to antiretroviral therapy in 2019 ”.
Still for the case of the kingdom, the same source recalls that more than 50% of gay men and men who have sex with men, considered as one of the key populations of the program, declared having received at least two prevention services in the past three months.
In addition, for injecting drug users, UNAIDS mentions coverage of needles and syringes distributed individually, via the needle-syringe program, which however remains “average” in Morocco.
Regarding laws and policies, the UN program recalls that the kingdom “does not criminalize transgender people”, unlike sex workers, same-sex acts and people who use drugs.
The same dashboard also reports the absence of laws criminalizing transmission or exposure to HIV and the imposition of compulsory HIV testing for marriage certificates, employment contracts or residence permits or for certain groups.
Community work honored in the era of the coronavirus
As the world faces the pandemic of the new coronavirus, UNAIDS highlights the work of the Moroccan Family Planning Association and its HIV services to help women living with the virus. “Containment measures in Rabat, Morocco, smooth the COVID-19 curve, but they also make it more difficult for women to access sexual and reproductive health services,” said the program.
Thus, members of the Moroccan association and those of the community of people living with HIV were mobilized to orient and assist women living with HIV. “This support also includes free contraceptives, STI testing and other sexual and reproductive health services,” it added.
“One of the main concerns during confinement has been ensuring that people living with HIV still have access to antiretroviral drugs and that pregnant women living with HIV can deliver safely without risk to their own health (including exposure to COVID-19) and without the risk of transmitting HIV to their newborns. ”
For Fadoua Bakhadda, executive director of the Moroccan Family Planning Association, “the concerns of women living with HIV during this crisis were more about gender-based violence and the health and safety of their children.” “They are more worried about keeping their babies safe from HIV and COVID-19 rather than themselves,” she added, highlighting the importance of psychological services for this as well. fringe of society.