Even as countries continue to battle the scourge of HIV/AIDS, the gap between resource needs and resource availability is widening.
For the first time, the global resources available for the AIDS response declined by nearly US$1B, a UNAIDS report released this week outlined.
The report, UNAIDS’ Global AIDS Update, Communities at the centre, attributed this development to the fact that donors disbursed less and domestic investments did not grow fast enough to compensate for inflation.
It was pointed out that in 2018, US$19B [in constant 2016 dollars] was available for the AIDS response which was in fact US$7.2B short of the estimated US$26.2B needed by 2020.
Moreover, in order to continue the progress towards ending AIDS, UNAIDS urges all partners to step up action and invest in the response.
This, the report noted, will have to include fully funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria with at least US$14B at its replenishment in October and through increasing bilateral and domestic funding for HIV.
Despite this desperate need for funding, the UNAIDS report underscored that “Progress is continuing towards the 90–90–90 targets.”
This, the report said, was characterised by the 79 percent of people living with HIV who knew their HIV status in 2018; 78 percent who knew their HIV status were accessing treatment and 86 percent of people living with HIV who were accessing treatment were virally suppressed, keeping them alive and well, and preventing transmission of the virus.
Although the report noted that the progress varies greatly by region and by country, it was revealed that “AIDS-related deaths continue to decline as access to treatment continues to expand and more progress is made in improving the delivery of HIV/tuberculosis services.” According to the UNAIDS report, since 2010, global AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 33 percent evident by the 770,000 in 2018.
On the issue of pregnant women living with HIV, the report added that they now have access to antiretroviral medicines, an increase of more than 90 percent since 2010.
Meanwhile, it was found that although large disparities still exist between young women and young men, with young women 60 percent more likely to become infected with HIV than young men of the same age, there has been success in reducing new HIV infections among young women.
“Globally, new HIV infections among young women [aged 15–24 years] were reduced by 25 percent between 2010 and 2018, compared to a 10 percent reduction among older women [aged 25 years and older],” the report said.
It, moreover, noted that “it remains unacceptable that every week 6,200 adolescent girls and young women become infected with HIV,” thus sexual and reproductive health and rights programmes for young women need to be expanded and scaled up in order to reach more high-incidence locations and maximize impact.
The report also showed that men remain hard to reach. This has resulted in viral suppression among men living with HIV aged 25–34 years being very low. This has translated in some cases to less than 40 percent in some high-burden countries based on recent surveys.
This, the report said, is contributing to slow progress in stopping new HIV infections among their partners.
Also detailed in the report is that while gains have been made against HIV-related stigma and discrimination in many countries, discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV remain extremely high.
The report stated, “There is an urgency to tackle the underlying structural drivers of inequalities and barriers to HIV prevention and treatment, especially with regard to harmful social norms and laws, stigma and discrimination and gender-based violence.”
“Discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV remain extremely high in far too many countries. Across 26 countries, more than half of respondents expressed discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV.”
Proposed in the report, therefore, is the need for criminal laws, aggressive law enforcement as harassment and violence continue to push key populations to the margins of society and deny them access to basic health and social services.
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