UNAIDS report shows global 2020 targets not met

UNAIDS report shows global 2020 targets not met

The global AIDS response is facing a major setback. Over the past five years there have been 3.5 million more HIV infections and 820 thousand more deaths due to AIDS than had been predicted for 2020.

The new UNAIDS report Seizing the moment, Tackling entrenched inequalities to end epidemics, that was published yesterday at the virtual 23rd International AIDS Conference, shows that AIDS is far from being eradicated. Latest figures show that countries are not making the agreed efforts. Unequal access to health care is a structural problem, reinforced by COVID-19. UNAIDS calls on all governments to redouble efforts and allocate more resources to the AIDS response.

Build resilience

"The current situation whereby two epidemics meet -HIV and COVID- makes unmistakably clear that inequality and social exclusion is deeply rooted. Stigma and discrimination are proven to be fueling the epidemic. Gender inequality hampers an effective HIV response. It is shocking that AIDS is main cause of death among young women in Africa. This must stop”, says Mark Vermeulen, Director of Aidsfonds.

“We need to invest more in building resilience of people vulnerable to HIV including women and their local communities. Adolescents under the age of 18 should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to get tested for HIV. It should not be the parents, as is regulated by law in many countries. Especially now that health care systems are more difficult to reach due to COVID restrictions, young women should be able to act on their own by taking an HIV test at home. Providing online information and digital care is just as effective. Aidsfonds has experience with this, especially in African countries, with Dutch support, and we aim to expand. Putting communities in the driver’s seat is the only way to effectively end the epidemic".

Viral suppression lags behind

62% of new infections among adults, occur in most-at-risk groups such as gay and bi-men, transgender people, sex workers and people who use drugs. The number of infections has increased over the past year as exclusion and oppression have become more prevalent in an increasing number of countries.

According to UNAIDS, currently 38 million people are living with HIV worldwide. In 2019, 67% of them are on treatment, which is 25.4 million people. However only 15.7 million people were able to continue treatment with an undetectable viral load as a result. Only 53% of all children (0-14 years old) living with HIV worldwide are on treatment. In West and Central Africa this is only 32% of children.

Half a million extra deaths from AIDS

Every week 5500 young women (15-24 years) in the world become HIV infected. Young women in Sub-Saharan Africa are twice as likely to contract HIV as men of the same age. One out of 4 new HIV infections is in a young woman.

The COVID crisis now affects all young women. Because of their isolation they become extra vulnerable to sexual violence, unwanted pregnancy and HIV infection. Interruption of daily HIV treatment for half a year in sub-Saharan Africa alone could lead to half a million extra deaths from AIDS by the end of 2021, UNAIDS calculates.

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS: “Every day in the next decade decisive action is needed to get the world back on track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The progress made by many needs to be shared by all communities in all countries. Countries need to listen to the evidence and step up to their human rights responsibilities.”


Finally, the UNAIDS report highlights that international funding for the global AIDS response has declined further, last year by US$ 1.3 billion - compared to 2017. National governments themselves are responsible for more than half of the international funding, but this is stagnating. Contributions from international donors have again been reduced by 10%. Only the budget of the Global Fund has increased by 6% in 2019.

UNAIDS has calculated that an additional US$ 7.7 billion will be needed to end AIDS in 2030.

How to reach global targets?

To reach the global 2030 targets, we need to mobilise organisations and individuals to:
1) make sure we redouble efforts and allocate more resources including funding to the AIDS response;
2) put communities in the centre of the solutions;
3)  safeguard human rights in all actions.

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