Although the HIV/AIDS epidemic has stabilised overall, in certain countries the rate of infection continues to grow. Homophobia, discriminatory laws and gender-based violence undermine efforts to improve access for people affected by HIV/AIDS to the services they need. The SDC works on prevention and reducing social stigma in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
The SDC's focus
Switzerland makes an active contribution to global efforts against HIV/AIDS by supporting international specialised agencies such as the WHO, UNAIDS, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and other international and regional organisations, associations and networks.
In its country-specific programmes, Switzerland focuses on prevention – particularly in connection with sexual and reproductive health programmes – and improving access to non-discriminatory treatment, care and support.
Non-health-related programmes also take this aspect into account in regions particularly affected by HIV/AIDS, such as the role of HIV-positive people and the impact the programme has on them and vice versa.
The SDC also supports different activities implemented by Swiss NGOs that are aimed at controlling HIV/AIDS at the international level, and assists them with networking and coordination in Switzerland.
In addition, the SDC works with the private sector and universities in this field.
Significant progress has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS but considerable challenges remain. An estimated 37 million people in the world are living with HIV. In 2017, a tipping point was reached. For the first time, more than half of all people living with HIV received treatment, which has helped to lower the number of HIV-related deaths – by 35% between 2005 and 2014 alone. However, around 25% of all HIV-positive people are not even aware of their infection, which is why they do not seek treatment. Nonetheless, the number of new cases between 1996 and 2017 went down by 47% – although this figure has stagnated since then and another 1.7 million people became infected in 2017. The stigma and discrimination faced by HIV-positive people and population groups particularly affected by HIV/AIDS remains a huge challenge. It hinders effective prevention and access to treatment and HIV-related healthcare.
Switzerland made a significant contribution to the development of psychosocial support services for children and young people affected by HIV/AIDS in a number of southern African countries, which is helping to reduce discrimination and improve their prospects for the future.