On the occasion of World Aids Day the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’ organized a lunch-time conversation on the impact of criminalisation of HIV and key populations on the HIV-response. Evidence shows that an overly broad criminalisation of HIV non-disclosure, exposure or transmission with no intent to harm, undermines public health. Why is that?
UNAIDS’ recent report finds that worldwide goals for 2020 have not been reached, despite past years’ efforts. More people know their HIV-status, more people have access to medicines and more people have an undetectable viral load thanks to treatment. Yet, the efforts to prevent new infections have been less successful. The number of new infections among adults has hardly dropped in the past 4 years. Not a single region reached the goal to decrease new infections by 75% compared to 2016.
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.
Gains made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV could be reversed, with new HIV infections among children up by as much as 162% and setting the clock on AIDS-related deaths back to 2008, a modelling group convened by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS estimated. If no efforts are made to mitigate and overcome interruptions in health services and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy could lead to more than 500,000 extra deaths from AIDS-related illnesses in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020–2021.
UNAIDS broke it down:
‘How can we explain to young people today that we could not prevent them from becoming infected?'
For World Aids Day, the ‘Parliamentarians for the 2030 Agenda’ invited UNAIDS Brussels Representative Dr. Jantine Jacobi, Burundian youth representative Fabien Ndikuriyo, Stéphanie Drèze of MSF and Dr. Gert Scheerder of Sensoa to discuss the HIV epidemic worldwide, in Belgium and in Belgium’s partner countries.
Belgium in UNAIDS Governance Board
This year Belgium will preside the UNAIDS constituency with Portugal, Luxemburg and the Netherlands in the Programme Coordination Board (PCB) of UNAIDS, the governing board of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV. The UNAIDS PCB sets the overall policies and priorities for UNAIDS and decides on the organisation’s planning and execution. Challenges discussed within the board include how to keep up international support for HIV response, but can also include discussions on the impact of big donor countries’ policies on the HIV/AIDS response, think of the detrimental effect of the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy (or Global Gag Rule) by the US on integrated SRHR-HIV service delivery in countries in the Global South.
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.
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: