Turning the impossible into possible: what Germany needs to end the HIV epidemic

This website has been created by Gilead for the purposes of disease education and awareness.

Gilead Sciences Germany is committed to supporting national efforts to contain and ultimately end the HIV epidemic once and for all. Together with partner organizations, Gilead intends to build on the progress achieved so far, to accelerate the fight against HIV, while at the same time supporting people with HIV to live well at every stage of life.

UNAIDS issued a clear vision for the fight against HIV/AIDS – reaching the 90-90-90 targets:

  • By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
  • By 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

  • In 2016, the German Federal Government committed to reach these targets with its “BIS 20301 Strategy to contain HIV, Hepatitis B and C and other Sexually Transmitted Infections”. The implementation of the strategy has seen positive results, but this is only a start. HIV care in Germany continues to require further attention.

Great progress achieved to date in the fight against HIV in Germany
In Germany today, HIV is a lifelong and manageable infection; it is no longer a fatal condition. Globally, coordinated efforts of key stakeholders have transformed HIV/AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable long-term condition, allowing people living with HIV on treatment to live nearly as long as the general population2.

The German healthcare system has also made progress in combating the HIV epidemic in recent years. Extensive national and regional HIV campaigns like ‘Gib AIDS keine Chance’ (“Give AIDS no chance”) have effectively targeted at risk populations through raising awareness activities.

Since October 2018, HIV self-tests have been available for everyone without a prescription.

Germany meets only two of the three UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals
According to the information available, Germany has achieved in 2018 two of the three UNAIDS targets3, as:

  • 88% of people living with HIV know their status.
  • 93% of these people receive antiretroviral therapy.
  • 95% of these people are treated successfully, their viral load is below the detectable limit.4

However, in such an advanced healthcare system like Germany, aspirations could be greater.

Driving progress in testing efforts is key
An estimated 12%5 of people living with HIV in Germany do not know about their positive HIV status, which poses a significant risk of transmission of HIV to others. This means that approximately 10,600 people have yet to be diagnosed and consequently treated, and some of people with HIV currently undiagnosed may not be diagnosed until their infection has reached an advanced stage. This group makes up the so-called late presenters. Against this backdrop, it is critical for Germany to achieve higher HIV screening and testing rates, as well as rapid linkage to care for people newly diagnosed.

While striving to the end of the HIV epidemic, pursuing life-long good health for people living with HIV should be a priority
From the evidence available today we know that the life expectancy of people living with HIV starting treatment has increased remarkably across the years6. However, with longer life expectancy comes a higher risk of developing coexisting medical conditions (comorbidities)7.

Therefore, life-long good health of people living with HIV should also be a priority for the German government, and measures should be put in place that go beyond HIV clinical care, to ensure a good quality of life is achievable for people living with HIV.

What Germany needs to end the HIV epidemic
Gilead Sciences Germany encourages the German authorities to stay committed to the fight against HIV and address the outstanding challenges and hurdles relating to the epidemic, with a focus on:

  1. Ramping up testing to achieve the first 90 target
  2. Being ambitious in going beyond the 90-90-90 targets towards zero new infections
  3. Addressing the issues related to ageing with HIV and introduce measures to support people living with HIV to make health choices that will help them to live well at every stage of life.