UNAIDS warns the world is “dangerously unprepared” for future pandemics unless leaders address inequality |

In an urgent call to action before International AIDS Day On December 1, the agency focused on ending the disease as a public health threat by 2030, saying the world will remain trapped unless transformational action is taken. COVID-19 crisis and remain dangerously unprepared for all future pandemics.

Infection every 2 minutes

The message came from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that at least 310,000 children were infected with HIV in 2020, or one child every two minutes.

An additional 120,000 children died of AIDS-related causes during the same period, or one child every five minutes.

Their latest global survey of HIV and AIDS warns that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates inequalities that have long fueled the HIV epidemic, placing vulnerable children, adolescents, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers at increased risk of missing vital HIV prevention and treatment services.

Progress has gone astray

“Progress in the fight against the AIDS pandemic, which has not been realized, is now under even greater stress as the COVID-19 crisis continues to rage, disrupting HIV prevention and treatment services, schooling, violence prevention programs and more.” – Vinnie Byanyima, UNAIDS – said the executive director.

“We cannot be forced to choose between ending the AIDS pandemic today and preparing for tomorrow’s pandemics. The only successful approach will achieve both. “

According to UNICEF, 2 out of 5 children living with HIV worldwide are unaware of their status, and just over half of children living with HIV are receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART).

“If we do not step up our efforts to tackle the inequalities that are driving the HIV epidemic, which are now exacerbated by COVID-19, we may see more children living with HIV and more children who have lost the fight against AIDS,” said Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF.

Inequality determines the nature of infection

A UNAIDS report indicates that some countries, including those with the highest HIV prevalence, have made “significant progress” in the AIDS response.

However, it indicates that the number of new HIV infections is not falling fast enough to stop the pandemic: 1.5 million new HIV infections in 2020 and an increase in HIV infection rates in some countries.

He also noted that infections follow a line of inequality. Six out of seven new HIV infections among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa occur among adolescent girls.

Gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers and people who use drugs face a 25–35 times higher risk of acquiring HIV worldwide.

Globally, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 89 percent of new HIV infections among children and 88 percent of children and adolescents living with HIV, according to UNICEF. About 88 percent of AIDS-related child deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

COVID-19 undermines response

In early 2020, many countries experienced significant HIV service disruptions due to COVID-19, according to a UNICEF report.

HIV testing of infants in high HIV burden countries has decreased by 50–70 percent, and the number of new treatment programs for children under 14 has decreased by 25–50 percent.

Isolation has also contributed to higher infection rates due to the surge in gender-based violence and limited access to follow-up care. Several countries have also experienced significant reductions in hospital births, maternal HIV testing and the initiation of antiretroviral HIV treatment.

In 2020, according to UNAIDS, 40 of the 50 countries surveyed had fewer people living with HIV who started treatment. Harm reduction services for people who use drugs were also discontinued in 65% of 130 countries analyzed by the agency.

Pandemics are on the rise amid division

The UNAID report highlighted five critical elements that he said must be urgently implemented to stop the AIDS pandemic, but they lack funding and priorities.

These include community and community infrastructure, equal access to medicines, vaccines and medical technology, and support for workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

He also reaffirmed that human rights must be at the center of the pandemic response, with people-centered data systems that highlight inequalities. “Pandemics find room to grow in divisions of divided societies … work to end pandemics cannot succeed unless world leaders take steps to enable them to do so,” said Helen Clark, Co-Chair of the Independent Pandemic Preparedness Group. and “Answer” in the UNAIDS report.

Supporting these concerns, Ms. Fore said that “recovery in a post-pandemic world must include an HIV response that is evidence-based, people-centered, resilient, resilient and above all fair.

“To fill the gaps, these initiatives must be driven through a strengthened health system and the constructive engagement of all affected communities, especially the most vulnerable.”

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