Amsterdam has made huge strides in almost eradicating new HIV infections in the city (Photo: Nikolai Karaneschev)
The city of Amsterdam recorded just a handful of new HIV infections in the last year, demonstrating that ending HIV and AIDS is indeed possible.
According to Aidsfonds-Soa Aids Nederland, the number of new infections in the Dutch capital has plummeted by 95% since 2010, with data estimates revealing that only nine people contracted HIV in 2022.
Exceeding UNAIDS Targets
This remarkable achievement means that Amsterdam has already met and exceeded the international UNAIDS targets set for 2030.
The city now has 98% of people living with HIV diagnosed, 95% of those aware of their status receiving treatment, and 96% of those on treatment having suppressed the virus to the point where it can no longer be transmitted.
Mark Vermeulen, the executive director of Aidsfonds-Soa Aids Nederland, expressed his enthusiasm, saying, “After more than 40 years of working together to stop the spread of HIV, this is great news. It really is possible to end HIV and AIDS. Amsterdam is proving to everyone that it can be done.”
The announcement was made by the organisation at the international ‘Fast-Track Cities’ conference that commenced in Amsterdam on Monday.
The conference unites mayors, policymakers, and individuals living with HIV from over 500 cities worldwide committed to accelerating their efforts to eradicate HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.
Collaboration and Political Will
Aidsfonds-Soa Aids Nederland attributed Amsterdam’s success to an unprecedented collaboration among all stakeholders involved in the HIV response, including scientists, doctors, advocacy groups, and individuals living with HIV.
The determined political will of the Amsterdam city council to eliminate HIV by 2026 was another crucial factor. The council allocated additional funding to make the HIV prevention drug PrEP available to more people than the national budget allowed.
While HIV can now be effectively treated, allowing those with the virus to stay healthy and not transmit it, over 630,000 people worldwide still succumbed to AIDS last year.
Vermeulen emphasised that with sustained and adequate funding for widespread HIV testing, availability of the HIV prevention drug PrEP, and awareness campaigns to dispel misconceptions about HIV, the Netherlands as a whole could achieve zero new HIV infections by 2030.