40 years ago the first people dying of aids were registered. At a seminar with the Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda, Prof. Marie Laga (ITM) explained how the epidemic grew at an alarming speed in the 1990s and 2000s. As it hit countries in Southern Africa, life-expectancy in countries such as Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa dropped below the level of the 1960s. Things started to change when in 1996 anti-retroviral treatment (ART) became available for people in the wealthy North. However, the drugs were unaffordable for patients living in the South. It was only thanks to activists’ campaigns that political recognition and action came about, and brought about fundamental change with the creation of international coordination through UNAIDS, and increased funding through the Global Fund and PEPFAR. This led to a rapid scale-up of people’s access to ART, standing at 2% in 2001 and amounting to 73% today. However, with 1.5 million new infections in 2020, we are not seeing ‘the end of aids’ yet and HIV prevention remains the biggest challenge.
A high-level meeting (HLM) on AIDS under the theme - End Inequalities. End AIDS - was convened from 8 to 10 June 2021, in New York. The HLM made a comprehensive review of the progress on the commitments made in the 2016 Political Declaration towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and had to set out priorities for the coming years.
Reducing inequalities lies at the heart of UNAIDS’ 2021-2026 new Global AIDS Strategy. It aims to assist and guide every country and community in reaching UNAIDS goals of zero new HIV-infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. A comprehensive framework of actions has been outlined to tackle inequalities and protect human rights in the HIV response. The gaps for HIV prevention, testing, treatment and support can be closed by reducing inequalities. The Strategy’s vision for reducing inequalities and laying the foundation to reach the 2030 targets builds on its three Strategic Priorities: (1) Maximise equitable and equal access to HIV services and solutions; (2) Break down barriers to achieving HIV outcomes;(3) Fully resource efficient HIV responses and integrate HIV in systems for health, social protection, and humanitarian and pandemic responses.
Intensified HIV testing and treatment efforts are reaching more people than ever but persistent barriers remain
75% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, but increased efforts are needed to reach the 9.4 million people living with HIV who are not aware that they are living with the virus, UNAIDS 2018 reports shows.
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.