UN Calls For Greater Focus On Ending Inequalities To End AIDS

THE United Nations Secretary, General Antonio Guterres has released a report Addressing inequalities and getting back on track to end AIDS by 2030 with recommendations and targets to get the world on track to end AIDS and urges the world to address inequalities that are slowing progress.

By Staff Reporter

He has warned that despite intensive action and progress made against HIV in some places and population groups, HIV epidemics continue to expand in others. He also issued a set of 10 key recommendations if followed by all countries, it will help end the AIDS pandemic as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

It is imperative to break out of an increasingly costly and unsustainable cycle of achieving some progress against HIV but ultimately not enough to bring about an end to the pandemic. Inequalities are the key reason why the 2020 global targets were missed. By ending inequalities, transformative outcomes can be achieved for people living with HIV, communities and countries,” Guterres said.

Winnie Byanyima, the UNAIDS Executive Director said Ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 is still within reach as many countries were showing that rapid progress against HIV is possible when evidence-informed strategies and human rights-based approaches are adopted.

She added that it requires bold political leadership to challenge and address the social injustices and inequalities that continue to make certain groups of people and entire communities highly vulnerable to HIV infection.

The Secretary-General notes that COVID-19 has caused additional setbacks however, he warned that COVID-19 is not an excuse for missing AIDS targets, but rather a stark warning to the countries that they can no longer afford to underinvest in pandemic preparedness and responses.

At the same time, the reports registers that COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the many spill-over benefits of HIV investments in health and development. Community-led service delivery pioneered by the HIV response is helping to overcome the extraordinary impediments created by COVID-19.

*The 10 recommendations in the United Nations Secretary-General’s report:
1. Reduce and end the acute and intersecting inequalities that are obstructing progress to end AIDS.
2. Prioritize HIV prevention and ensure that 95% of people at risk of HIV infection have access to and use appropriate, prioritized, person-centered and effective combination prevention options by 2025.
3. Close gaps in HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression that are limiting the impact of HIV responses and achieve by 2025 the 95–95–95 testing and treatment targets within all subpopulations, age groups and geographic settings, including children living with HIV.
4. Eliminate vertical HIV transmission and end pediatric AIDS.
5. Put gender equality and the human rights of women and girls in all their diversity at the forefront of efforts to mitigate the risk and impact of HIV.
6. Implement the GIPA (Greater Involvement of People Living with HIV/AIDS) principle and empower communities of people living with HIV, women, adolescents and young people and key populations to play their critical HIV response roles.
7. Respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of people living with, at risk of and affected by HIV and ensure by 2025 that less than 10% of people living with HIV and key populations experience stigma and discrimination.
8. Enhance global solidarity to close the HIV response resource gap and increase annual HIV investments in low- and middle-income countries to US$29 billion by 2025.
9. Accelerate progress towards universal health coverage and strong primary health care systems, build forward better and fairer from COVID-19 and humanitarian crises, and strengthen global health security and future pandemic preparedness.
10. Leverage the 25 years of experience, expertise and mandate of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in building multisectorial, multi-stakeholder and rights-based collaborative action to end AIDS and deliver health for all as global public good.

The global targets set out in the General Assembly’s 2016 Political Declaration on Ending AIDS were missed by a long way, allowing the AIDS pandemic to grow in many regions and countries. The staggering 1.7 million new HIV infections that occurred in 2019 are more than three times higher than the 2020 target of less than 500 000 new infections. In addition, the 690 000 AIDS-related deaths in 2019 far exceed the 2020 target of reducing deaths to fewer than 500 000 a year.

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