On 26 July 2018, UNAIDS published the latest statistics on the global HIV epidemic. In 2017, an estimated 36.9 million people were living with HIV. 21 million people have access to treatment, a record high. Consequently, the number of AIDS related deaths has dropped, to 940,000 in 2017. The biggest successes lay in Eastern and South-Eastern Africa, with a 42% decline in the number of AIDS related deaths since 2010. They reflect the successful scale-up of treatment in the region. Access to treatment also improved in most other regions, although (much) more modestly.
More than 16,000 researchers, advocates, policy makers, funders and community leaders from more than 160 countries came together in Amsterdam for the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018). They are all committed to achieving a world free from HIV. These are the main takeaways:
The federal development aid for health and reproductive health increased from €141 million in 2015 to €146 million in 2016. The support is still well below the level of 2014 though. €164 million was spent on these sectors in 2014. The total expenditure of the Directorate-General for Development (DGD) increased with 11.8% in 2016. This means the federal government is investing relatively less in development aid for health and reproductive health because the proportion of aid dedicated to these sectors decreased from 14% in 2015 to 12.7% in 2016. Sensoa discussed these results in an analysis of the federal development aid for health and reproductive health.
Together with other members of the Be Cause Health Working Group on SRHR, Sensoa developed three information sheets and infographics on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with a particular focus on young people, gender and the linkages between HIV and SRHR.
These info sheets give an overview of the latest facts and figures and contain a number of guidelines for Belgian development stakeholders. The info sheets should contribute to a better knowledge and understanding among Belgian development stakeholders such as diplomats, Belgian Development Agency employees and representatives of NGOs as well as identify needs and good practices better. With this initiative, the Working group on SRHR aims to encourage Belgian development stakeholders to dedicate more attention to young people, gender and the links between HIV and SRHR in development programmes and policies.
UNAIDS’ latest report shows the world is moving forward in achieving the 90-90-90 agenda. The targets were launched in 2014 to accelerate progress so that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV have access to sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people with access to antiretroviral therapy are virally suppressed.
At IAS 2017, the academic HIV conference in Paris, the start of a large-scale efficacy study (phase III) into a preventive HIV vaccine in South Africa was announced (HVTN 702). It is the first efficacy study of this scale since 2009.
Member associations of the International Planned Parenthood Federation stand to suffer from the Global Gag Rule or Mexico City Policy. Across the world, IPPF expects to forgo $100 million in funding from the United States Government.
In 32 countries, including Belgian partner countries Burkina Faso, Burundi, Mali, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania and Flemish partner country Mozambique, IPPF member associations have indicated they will forgo funding because of their refusal to sign the Global Gag Rule.
The Trump administration has proposed to cut all support for international family planning and reproductive health in its budget proposal for 2018. This amounts to a budget of $607.5 million. The budget cut is unprecedented.
The parliamentarians for the 2030 agenda, for which Sensoa functions as a secretariat, organised an event on World AIDS Day to raise awareness about HIV globally and in Belgium.
Every year, the Amnesty International Chair is awarded to someone who has made an exceptional contribution to the promotion of human rights. This year, the Chair was given to Peter Piot from Belgium, a global authority in the area of HIV-research and policy.