THE Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has said the world is not on track to end Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) by 2030.
In a statement to commemorate this year’s World AIDS Day, UNAIDS, through its Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, blamed inequality for the world being off-target in achieving the goal.
The agency said HIV/AIDS had killed 40 million globally since it was discovered in the United States in 1981.
Data obtained by The ICIR on UNAIDS’ website on Wednesday showed that there were 1.5 million new infections of HIV in 2021 globally. Over 38 million people lived with the disease that year, and 650,000 people died of the virus within that period.
The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day commemoration is ‘equalise,’ comprising equalising access to rights, services, resources, and the best science and medicine.
According to the organisation, the world must equalise for women and girls to reduce their HIV risks.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls and young women are three times more likely to be infected with HIV than boys and men of the same age. The driving factor is inequality.
“Enabling girls to stay in school until they complete secondary education reduces their vulnerability to HIV infection by up to 50 per cent. When we include comprehensive sexuality education and other measures for girls’ empowerment, then their risk is reduced even further. That is why 12 African countries have come together in the Education Plus Initiative, supported by the United Nations, to make this happen.”
The agency called for combining sexual and reproductive health services with services for preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence and HIV.
Besides, it called for discrimination against marginalised people and the need to increase the fight against stigma.
“Stigma is the sentence passed by society on people for who they are. And it kills.
“We need to end stigma for people living with HIV and for marginalised communities. We need every leader – political leaders, faith leaders, traditional leaders, cultural leaders.”
Meanwhile, the agency noted that given the advancement in science and technology, no baby should be born with HIV, and no child with HIV should be without treatment.
It said while three-quarters of adults living with the virus got treatment, only half of the children could access it.
“We will not allow this shameful and avoidable injustice to continue. That is why the United Nations, international partners, civil society and governments from the 12 countries with the highest burden have come together and formed the Global Alliance to end AIDS in Children. We are moving. Tanzania will host the official launch early next year.”
UNAIDS also called for an end to inequalities in resourcing.
It argued that developing nations owing G20 countries pay as much as 136 million dollars in debt repayments daily, making the poor countries have little funds for their critical sectors such as health and education.
HIV management in Nigeria
Meanwhile, Nigeria has said its HIV infection is reducing.
Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, Gambo Aliyu, a doctor, said new infections from the disease dwindled from 103,404 in 2019 to 92,323 in 2021.
Addressing journalists at a press briefing preparatory to World AIDS Day on November 24, Gambo said Nigeria had enrolled more people on HIV treatment.
According to him, over 1.6 million people were on treatment as of the end of September.
The number represented a jump from 838,000 on treatment in 2017.
World AIDS Day is celebrated globally on December 1.
Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's the ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022. Contact him via email @ email@example.com.