Despite the world’s great progress in combating HIV infection, high prevalence of women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa and HIV infection among children continue to hamper progress.
“Every week, 4,000 adolescent girls and young women become infected with HIV. It is a weekly crisis. 3,100 of them are from sub-Saharan Africa. said Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS Executive Director at the opening of the meeting. 2023-UNAIDS Global AIDS Update Report in Geneva on Thursday.
However, she argued that ending AIDS by 2030 is an achievable goal.
“The data and evidence in the report we are releasing today show that we are on track to end AIDS by 2030,” Byanyima added. “The path to ending AIDS is the same path that will help societies prepare for future pandemics and help countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Adolescent girls and women bear the greatest burden of infectious diseases
In 2022 alone, women and girls will account for 63% of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa. Today, less than half of the districts with the highest HIV prevalence in the region have dedicated HIV prevention programs for adolescent girls and young women.
The report argues that prevention programs and other interventions targeting women and girls will have a knock-on effect on the population by directly reducing the number of new HIV infections among children.
Between 1996 and 2022, HIV treatment averted approximately 21 million AIDS-related deaths worldwide. AIDS-related deaths have also fallen 69% from their peak in 2004, the report added. But in 2022, the disease killed him at one death per minute.
Coordinated efforts targeting women and young girls have halved the number of new infections since 2010, but young girls and women remain among the most vulnerable to HIV infection.
“Decrease in new HIV infections among women” [globally] Increased treatment coverage for people living with HIV has led to a 58% decline in annual new infections among children worldwide from 2010 to 2022, to 130,000, the lowest level since the 1980s,” the report said. Says.
POLITICAL ACTION ESSENTIAL TO ADVANCE PROGRESS
Common to the various success stories of countries that have recorded reductions in HIV/AIDS prevalence and mortality is a strong political commitment to putting people and communities at the center of their policies.
“HIV programs succeed when public health priorities take precedence, as evidenced by experience in multiple countries,” the report adds.
Countries such as Botswana, Cameroon, Nepal, Zimbabwe and Cambodia have all reduced new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths by scaling up evidence-based policies and implementing focused prevention programmes, according to the report. A significant reduction in numbers has been achieved.
In 2020, UNAIDS announced a set of ambitious goals for countries to meet by 2025. The so-called “95-95-95” plan aims to have 95% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status. Her 95% of HIV-infected individuals receive continuous antiretroviral therapy. Also, 95% of people on antiretroviral therapy live longer by suppressing their viral load, preventing further progression of the infection and sexually transmitting the virus.
According to the 2023 UNAIDS report, Botswana, Eswatini, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe have already achieved the targets set by the 95-95-95 programme. At least 16 countries, including eight in sub-Saharan Africa and Thailand, are close to achieving the targets set by the program.
However, achievements in the fight against HIV-AIDS have been limited outside sub-Saharan Africa.
About 23% of new HIV infections occurred in Asia and the Pacific, with new infections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia increasing by 49% since 2010. A 61% increase since 2010, according to the report on the number of new HIV infections in the Middle East and North Africa region.
“These trends are largely due to lack of preventive services for marginalized and important populations and barriers posed by punitive laws, violence, societal stigma and discrimination.”
Byanyima condemns criminalization of homosexual relationships in Uganda
While acknowledging that some countries are taking aggressive steps to prioritize local HIV prevention measures, Byanyima spares no words for Uganda’s recent actions to criminalize same-sex relationships. condemned.
“By 2022 and 2023, Antigua and Barbuda, the Cook Islands, Barbados, St Kitts and Nevis and Singapore will decriminalize same-sex sexual relations. Go ahead, it’s not positive,” she said.
Consensual same-sex sex is a criminal offense in 67 countries around the world. More than 160 countries have criminalized some forms of sex work, and 20 have criminalized transgender people. All of these actions have a direct impact on the state of the HIV epidemic in the region.
“By 2022, HIV infection rates will be 11-fold higher among gay men and other men who have sex with men, 4-fold higher among sex workers, and 4-fold higher than among adults in the general population (ages 15-49). It was seven times higher among sex workers, more likely to inject drugs, and 14 times higher among transgender people,” the report notes.
Barriers prevent further rapid progress
The report found that in regions such as Latin America, the European Union and the European Economic Area, delays in diagnosing infectious diseases, as well as inability to access or continue treatment, are among the key barriers to further progress. It is said that there is.
By 2022, approximately 9.2 million people living with HIV will still be untreated, and approximately 2.1 million on treatment will not be virally suppressed.
By 2022, only about 50% of people living with HIV in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa will be on treatment, according to the report.
By 2022, only 57% of children and adolescents living with HIV worldwide will be on treatment. From 2010 to 2022, he said, AIDS-related child deaths have fallen by 64%, but HIV will still claim the lives of her 84,000 children in 2022.
The report said that “prevalence of early infant diagnosis has increased in eastern and southern Africa (83%), but remains very low in western and central Africa (23%).”
Another barrier that prevents poor countries from implementing HIV prevention and treatment programs is lack of funding. After a significant increase in HIV funding recorded in the early 2010s, funding is now down to 2013 levels, the report said.
By 2022, US$20.8 billion will be available for HIV programs in low- and middle-income countries. This is 2.6% less than what was available in 2021. By 2025, the world will need US$29.3 billion to fight HIV.
“So that’s an 8.5 billion difference.” [USD]. What this shows is that we are in a world that is not yet on the road to ending AIDS, but it also shows that we can choose to do so. It’s a choice,” Byanyima said.
Declining HIV prevalence is directly related to increasing HIV funding.
“Some countries with declining HIV prevalence, such as the Dominican Republic, India, Kyrgyzstan and Togo, devote between 3% and 16% of HIV spending to prevention programs for key population groups,” the report said. the book says.
In 2022, About 90 countries signed voluntary license agreements To buy a generic version of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Several upper middle-income countries with significant HIV infections were not included in the buyout agreement, leaving their citizens in a more vulnerable position.
“Generic manufacturing could take years to ramp up … If these hurdles could be removed, HIV prevention would be greatly facilitated,” the report said.
Image credit: UNAIDS, UNAIDS.
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