UNAIDS report shows people living with HIV face double jeopardy, HIV and COVID-19, as key populations and children continue to be left behind in accessing services HIV related

People living with HIV are at higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19, but the vast majority are denied access to COVID-19 vaccines. Key populations and their sexual partners account for 65% of new HIV infections, but are largely excluded from responses to HIV and COVID-19 – 800,000 children living with HIV are not receiving the treatment they need to stay alive

GENEVA, July 14, 2021-The UNAIDS Global AIDS Update 2021, launched today, highlights that people living with HIV are more vulnerable to COVID-19, but growing inequalities prevent them from accessing COVID-19 vaccines and HIV services.

Studies in England and South Africa have found that the risk of dying from COVID-19 in people living with HIV is double that of the general population. In sub-Saharan Africa, home to two-thirds (67%) of people living with HIV, less than 3% had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 2021. At the same time, HIV prevention and treatment services are slipping away from key populations, as well as children and adolescents.

COVID-19 vaccines could save millions of lives in the developing world, but are kept out of reach as rich countries and corporations cling firmly to monopoly on for-profit production and delivery of supplies . It is having a severe impact around the world as health systems in developing countries are overwhelmed, such as in Uganda, where football stadiums are turned into makeshift hospitals.

“Rich countries in Europe are preparing to take advantage of the summer as their populations have easy access to COVID-19 vaccines, as the global South is in crisis,” said Winnie Byanyima, executive director of the UNAIDS. “We have failed to learn the lessons of HIV, when millions of people were denied life-saving medicines and died due to unequal access. It is totally unacceptable. “

New UNAIDS report shows how lockdowns from COVID-19 and other restrictions have severely disrupted HIV testing – in many countries this has led to a sharp drop in HIV diagnoses, referrals to HIV services. HIV care and treatment initiation. In KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, for example, there was a 48% drop in HIV testing after the first national lockdown was imposed in April 2020. There were also fewer new diagnoses of HIV. HIV and a marked decrease in the start of treatment. This came as 28,000 HIV community health workers moved from testing for HIV to testing for symptoms of COVID-19.

The report, Confront inequalitiesshows that in 2020, the 1.5 million new HIV infections mainly affected key populations and their sexual partners. People who inject drugs, transgender women, sex workers, and gay men and other men who have sex with men, as well as the sexual partners of these key populations, accounted for 65% of HIV infections. globally in 2020. Key populations accounted for 93% of new HIV infections outside sub-Saharan Africa and 35% in sub-Saharan Africa. However, they remain marginalized and largely beyond the reach of HIV services in most countries.

The report shows that many of the 19 countries that achieved the 90-90-90 goals by 2020 have been leaders in differentiated service delivery, where settlement services are complemented by community-led services. Most also included key populations at the heart of their responses. In Estonia, for example, the expansion of comprehensive harm reduction services has been followed by a nationwide 61% reduction in HIV infections and a 97% reduction in new HIV infections among children. injecting drug users.

HIV testing and treatment have been intensified massively over the past 20 years. Some 27.4 million of the 37.7 million people living with HIV were on treatment in 2020. However, gaps in service delivery are much larger for children than for adults. In 2020, approximately 800,000 children aged 0-14 living with HIV were not on HIV treatment. Treatment coverage was 74% for adults but only 54% for children in 2020. Many children have not been tested for HIV at birth and do not know their HIV status, making their research and their taking care of a major challenge.

Confront inequalities also shows that women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa continue to be at higher risk of HIV infection, with gender inequality and gender-based violence at the center of this risk. Gender inequalities and gender-based violence deprive women and girls of their basic human rights, including the right to education, health and economic opportunity. This increases their risk of HIV infection and blocks access to services. In sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls and young women account for 25% of all new HIV infections compared to just 10% of the population.

Poverty and lack of education are also serious obstacles to health and HIV services. The report shows how family planning services for women and voluntary medical male circumcision for men and boys are much less likely to be accessed by people living in poverty. In 2020, the number of voluntary medical male circumcisions fell by more than 30% in 15 priority countries in East and Southern Africa.

Poverty is also a driver of migration, which has been shown to have a severe impact on access to HIV services and put lives at risk as migrants flee conflict and poverty in the country. hope of security and economic security.

“Billionaires are sailing their yachts in the same Mediterranean waters where migrants drown,” Winnie Byanyima said. “How can we stand idly by and let this be the ‘new normal.’ We must face up to these horrific inequalities and put the emphasis back on respect for basic human rights. “

Inequalities do not happen naturally. They are the result of political and programmatic actions that divide rather than include. For example, key populations are marginalized and criminalized for their gender identity and expression, sexual orientation and livelihoods. New analysis included in the report shows a positive correlation between better HIV outcomes and the passage of laws that advance non-discrimination. A study in sub-Saharan Africa found that HIV prevalence among sex workers was 39% in countries that criminalized sex work, compared to 12% in countries where sex work was partially legalized. .

“We are 40 years in the fight against HIV. Successes and failures have taught us that we cannot prepare for or overcome a pandemic unless we remove inequalities, promote people-centered and rights-based approaches, and work with communities to reach all those who need it. need it, ”Ms. Byanyima said.


The Joint United Nations Program on HIV / AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 United Nations organizations — UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank — and works closely with global and national partners to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more about unaids.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

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