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Address Inequalities To End AIDS By 2030, UN Chief Says In New Report


Inequalities in addressing AIDS threaten global
efforts to stamp out the disease as a public health threat
by 2030, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned in
a
report
published on Friday, which
provides 10 key recommendations to get the world back on
track.

Despite action and progress against
HIV in some places and population groups, HIV epidemics
continue to expand in others, the report
revealed. It was launched just weeks ahead of a major UN
General Assembly meeting on AIDS.

“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”, the
Secretary-General said in the report.

“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.”

New infections triple

In 2016,
the UN General Assembly set the target of having fewer than
500,000 new HIV infections by 2020. Last year, the figure
was 1.7 million, or three times the target. Similarly, the
690,000 AIDS-related deaths in 2019 far exceed the goal of
less than 500,000 deaths a year.

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

“But 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.”

Address inequalities,
prioritize prevention

The report underscores that
addressing social and structural factors that perpetuate
inequalities is key.

For example, gender inequality,
anchored by harmful gender norms, restricts women’s use of
HIV services, and sexual and reproductive health services.
This can impact decision-making, including the ability to
refuse unwanted sex or to negotiate safer
sex.

Vulnerable, marginalized and criminalized
communities also remain at higher risk of HIV infection
because they are not receiving essential information and HIV
services, whether for prevention or care. These groups
include gay men and other men who have sex with men, people
who use drugs, sex workers, transgender people, prisoners
and migrants.

Get back on track

The 10
recommendations for putting the world back on the path to
ending AIDS cover issues such as addressing inequalities and
reaching all people at risk of HIV infection.

The goal
is to keep new infections to under 370,000, and AIDS-related
deaths to under 250,000, by 2025.

They call for
closing gaps in HIV testing and treatment, and putting
“gender equality and the human rights of women and girls
in all their diversity” at the centre of efforts to
mitigate risk.

Other steps call for prioritizing HIV
prevention to ensure that 95 per cent of people at risk have
prevention options by 2025, and eliminating new infections
among children.

Lessons in preparedness

The
report also outlined how the COVID-19 pandemic
has exposed social inequalities and health system
weaknesses.

The Secretary-General said the world
should leverage experience from responding to the AIDS
crisis to strengthen health systems and improve pandemic
preparedness.

He also appealed for more global
solidarity, including to increase annual HIV investments in
low and middle-income countries to $29 billion by
2025.

© Scoop Media

 



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