HIV takes advantage of COVID-19 to regain ground in the world

The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the HIV pandemic to fight back. The reduction in new infections with the human immunodeficiency virus between 2020 and 2021 was the lowest in the last five years, according to the latest UN report presented this Wednesday in advance of the International AIDS Conference to be held in Canada.

HIV, alcohol or gender-based violence: the WHO makes forecasts for Europe for the first time and they are not very good

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"Progress in prevention and treatment falters around the world and puts the lives of millions of people at risk," says the UN-AIDS analysis. Last year alone, some 650,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses. “A life every minute”, underlines the work. And 1.5 million contracted HIV. That is one million above the commitments made by the states for that course.

The worst situation is presented by Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America where they have "experienced an increase in annual cases for several years."

In the case of the HIV pandemic, not moving forward means going backwards: “These data show that the global response to AIDS is in serious jeopardy. The fact that we are not making rapid progress means that we are losing ground”, analyzes the director of UN-AIDS, Winnie Byanyima.

The point is that, as of December 2021, the world was not on track to reach the prevention goals set for 2025: the 1.5 million new infections in 2021 imply 4,000 a day. A rate that, according to the UN, makes it impossible for infections in 2025 to have been left at 370,000 a year. Projections indicate that, for that horizon, the new infected will be 1.2 million that year. Very far.

inequalities

Contagion curves reflect global inequality. Firstly between regions and countries. But, in addition, the new cases were primed especially among adolescent and young women. "In this group, there was a new infection every two minutes over the past year." In sub-Saharan Africa, these girls are three times more likely to be infected than boys.

In Asia and the Pacific, the most populous region in the world, data compiled by UN-AIDS show that there is an increase in cases in areas where the epidemic curve had been bent and new infections had been reduced. "The increase in the number of new infections in these areas is undoubtedly alarming," the report states. In Eastern and Southern Africa, the rapid advances of previous years slowed down significantly in 2021, it warns.

Access to treatments.

HIV –and AIDS– leave very clear the inequities when it comes to accessing treatments that have managed to stop the flow of deaths that the pandemic brought. The peak of deaths associated with AIDS was marked in 2004 with three million.

"Efforts to ensure that all people living with HIV have access to life-saving antiretroviral treatment are weakening," says UN-AIDS. The number of people in therapy had the slowest growth in a decade. 25% of those living with HIV have no treatment. There are 10 million people who do not have them. And half of the infected children are left out.

“These figures reveal a political will. Are we concerned about empowering and protecting our girls? Do we want to stop AIDS deaths among children?” Byanyima asked upon learning of the data.

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