What you need to know:
- According to WHO, since the beginning of the epidemic, 84.2 million people have been infected with the virus , which continues to be a major global public health issue having claimed 40.1 million lives so far.
- And nearly four decades into the HIV response, inequalities still persist for the most basic services like testing, treatment, condoms, and even more so for new technologies, according to UNAIDS. The situation has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Today the World Health Organization (WHO) joins global partners to commemorate the World AIDS Day under the theme ‘Achieving Equity to End HIV ‘.
The joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAIDS) is urging that the inequalities holding back progress in ending Aids are addressed through increasing availability, quality and suitability of services for HIV treatment, testing and prevention .
According to WHO, since the beginning of the epidemic, 84.2 million people have been infected with the virus , which continues to be a major global public health issue having claimed 40.1 million lives so far.
And nearly four decades into the HIV response, inequalities still persist for the most basic services like testing, treatment, condoms, and even more so for new technologies, according to UNAIDS. The situation has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Data from UNAIDS on the global HIV response reveals that during the last two years of Covid-19 and other global crises, progress against the HIV pandemic has faltered, resources have shrunk and millions of lives are at risk as a result.
One of the most affected groups are women and young people. According to UNAIDS analysis, women on the African continent remain disproportionately affected by HIV, while coverage of dedicated programmes for them remains too low. In 19 high-burden countries in Africa, dedicated combination prevention programmes for adolescent girls and young women are operating in only 40 per cent of the high HIV incidence locations.
UNAIDS recent report ‘In Danger’ revealed a faltering HIV response in many countries, with entire groups of people being left highly vulnerable to HIV infection and unable to access treatment, prevention and care services. Data in the report showed that HIV infections are increasing in 38 countries worldwide and that the pandemic continues to have the worst impact on adolescent girls and young women and key populations such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people and people who use drugs.
According to the National AIDS and STI Control Programme 2021 report, 42 per cent (11,229) of adult new HIV infections occur among adolescents and young people aged between 15-24 years.
“Causes range from Covid-19 containment measures, which forced young people out of school, and sexual and gender-based violence,” explains Job Akuno, the technical lead for Adolescents and Youth at Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation .
However, he points out that inadequate access to information about sex and sexuality as well as community and religious norms that deny them access to adequate, accurate and reliable information about HIV prevention messages have highly contributed to the high infection rates among the adolescents and youth.
According to UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, for Aids to be defeated, the inequalities which perpetuate it have to be dealt with. “Everyone has to get involved in sharing the message that we will all benefit when we tackle inequalities,” she adds.