According to the UN report, HIV infection remains persistently high

As the world’s attention turns to the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the fight against an old enemy has lost a crucial position: More than 1.5 million people became infected with HIV last year, roughly three times the global target, the United Nations said. Wednesday.

According to the UNAIDS Program on HIV and AIDS, an estimated 650,000 people will die of AIDS in 2021, which is about one person every minute. Progress against the disease has slowed, and global infections have remained stable since 2018.

The cost in 2021 was uneven, as 15- to 24-year-olds, particularly young women, bore a disproportionate share of the burden. According to the program, one new infection occurred in a teenage girl or young woman every two minutes.

Young people accounted for 31 percent of new infections in sub-Saharan Africa, and four out of five were among girls and young women. In El Salvador, the prevalence of HIV has almost doubled among men who have sex with men, and nearly eightfold among transgender people.

In Asia and the Pacific, new HIV infections were increasing in places where they had declined. And around 160,000 children around the world are infected despite the availability of preventive measures.

“These numbers shouldn’t just sound the alarm, they should signal a threshold,” said Stephawn Wallace, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

In most countries, including the United States, only privileged groups have consistent access to HIV prevention and treatment, Dr. Wallace said. “In different parts of the world, groups that are oppressed or lower in the social hierarchy are not given equal opportunities,” he said.

An estimated 40 million people worldwide are living with HIV. About 10 million of them, including about half of infected children, do not have access to treatment.

Fortunately, many of those already on treatment remained on treatment in 2021 thanks to innovative HIV programs in some countries. But the past two years have brought waves of disruption to HIV prevention and diagnosis, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

Millions of girls are out of school amid the spread of the coronavirus, teenage pregnancy and gender-based violence. The pandemic has made poverty levels and fuel prices skyrocket.

The war in Ukraine has led to further increases in food prices and supply chain constraints.

“When there’s an economic crisis, women, especially young women, become more dependent on transactional sex as a source of income,” says Harsha Thirumurthy, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s not just an economic event, but an overall one.”

In 2021, low-income countries’ debt payments accounted for 171 percent of spending on health, education, and social protection. According to the report, donor countries have tightened the purse strings, and HIV funding from countries other than the United States has fallen by 57 percent over the past decade.

Low- and middle-income countries need an estimated $29 billion to fight HIV by 2025, but face a shortfall of about $8 billion.

“These numbers are about political will,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanima.

“Are we thinking about empowering and protecting our girls?” he added. “Do we want to stop children dying from AIDS?” Do we put saving lives before crime? If we do that, we need to rebuild the AIDS response.”

The response in some countries is that people from marginalized communities are among those most at risk.

In Australia, Canada, and the United States, new HIV infections are higher among black people and indigenous communities than among white people. Men, drug users and men who have sex with sex workers – who account for approximately 70 percent of all global infections – are 30 times more likely to be infected than the general population.

Effective global policy must take these realities into account; It’s about “more than giving people condoms and lubricants,” Dr. Wallace said.

In an ideal world, for example, young women would have unimpeded access to reproductive health services without stigma or judgment from their families, communities, or places of worship. Dr. Thirumurthy suggested that cash transfer programs could be as important as medical tools in reducing new infections among girls.

At the 2016 meeting, UN member states set new goals for 2020: fewer than 500,000 new HIV infections each year, fewer than 500,000 AIDS-related deaths each year, and ending HIV-related discrimination. People did not achieve these goals.

The world is also unlikely to meet another target: a reduction of 370,000 new infections annually by 2025. A new report estimates the real number could be three times higher.

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