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Even as the push to ‘End inequalities. End AIDS’ continues on World AIDS Day 2021, infection rates of HIV do not seem to be reducing quick enough to hit the target of eradicating AIDS by 2030, according to a report by the United Nations group to fight the disease.
However, it is not impossible.
“It is still possible to end the epidemic by 2030. But that will require stepped up action and greater solidarity. To beat AIDS — and build resilience against the pandemics of tomorrow — we need collective action,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in his World AIDS Day message, according to the UNAIDS website.
While progress against the AIDS pandemic was already off track, the raging Covid-19 crisis disrupted HIV prevention and treatment services under greater strain. Therefore, UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima made a call of action saying, “We cannot be forced to choose between ending the AIDS pandemic today and preparing for the pandemics of tomorrow. The only successful approach will achieve both. As of now, we are not on track to achieve either.”
Further to this, the UNAIDS has issued a stark warning that if leaders fail to tackle inequalities, the world could face over 7 million deaths related to the infection over the next 10 years if the availability of preventative measures and treatments remain at 2019 levels.
This warning is a part of a new report titled ‘Unequal, unprepared, Under Threat: Why bold action against inequalities is needed to end AIDS, stop Covid-19 and prepare for future pandemics’.
Around June, UNAIDS had set new targets to reach by 2025. These include: bringing HIV services to 95 percent of those who need them; reducing annual HIV infections to fewer than 370,000; and reducing AIDS-related deaths to fewer than 250,000 by 2025.
If, however, the international strategy is put in place and 2025 goals are met, UNAIDS said some 4.6 million lives could be saved over the course of the decade.
But the report said the world is off-track to meet those goals.
“UNAIDS data show that the curves of HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are not bending fast enough to end the pandemic,” it said.
The report highlighted five urgent strategy priorities it said should be funded and implemented globally.
They include access to preventative equipment like condoms and clean needles, as well as support for community-based health services.
According to the report, marginalized people, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who use drugs by injection, and prisoners, continue to be the most at risk for HIV infection.