World AIDS day 2019: Clinical research that reaches key populations
According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics, in 2018 an estimated 1.7 million people were newly infected with HIV and there were 0.8 million HIV-related deaths. Most of these deaths are in low and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where the burden of infectious diseases is highest and where vulnerable populations, such as adolescents, children, women and co-infected individuals, remain difficult to reach.
The UNAIDS Report 2019 states that ‘in 2018, more than half of all new HIV infections were among key populations. Globally in 2018, 6000 adolescent girls and young women became infected with HIV every week. Current demographic trends in Africa foresee increasing numbers of young people at risk of HIV exposure. Moreover, in sub-Saharan Africa, four in five new HIV infections among adolescents aged 10–19 years are among girls.’ In order to reduce the burden of new HIV infections, the high at-risk groups and communities need to be involved in research and clinical studies.