KINGSTON, Jamaica - The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) report, titled ‘In Danger’, has revealed that during the last two years of COVID-19 and the impact of other global crises, progress against the HIV pandemic has faltered.
This was disclosed by executive director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima.
According to a release, Byanyima, who was speaking at the virtual launch on Wednesday, said new HIV infections dropped by only 3.6 per cent between 2020 and 2021.
“This is the smallest annual decline since 2016,” Byanyima said.
She informed that in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, new HIV infections have been increasing every year, over multiple years.
“In Asia and the Pacific, the world’s most populous regions, our data show that for the first time, new infections are now rising. Previously, they had been falling. In eastern and southern Africa, where we had the fastest progress on reducing new infections and reducing deaths, even there we are seeing progress slowing significantly in 2021,” Byanyima stated.
She further noted that there were 1.5 million new infections in 2021, which is more than one million above the global target. In addition, there were 650,000 AIDS-related deaths last year despite the availability of effective HIV treatment and tools to prevent, detect, and treat opportunistic infections.
“If these trends continue, we could see 7.7 million additional AIDS-related deaths in this decade. The multiple global crises have undermined services. The number of people on HIV treatment grew more slowly in 2021 than it has been over the last 10 years, so fewer people are coming for treatment,” Byanyima informed.
She added that of all the children living with HIV, only 52 per cent are on lifesaving medicine.
There were an estimated 330,000 people living with HIV in the Caribbean in 2021. According to the report, from 2010 to 2021, AIDS-related deaths in the region declined by 50 per cent. There were 5,700 deaths last year and new HIV infections decreased by 28 per cent since 2010.
An estimated 14,000 people contracted HIV in 2021, translating into 270 new HIV infections every week in the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, Byanyima said the report “shows us how to achieve an effective response. It is by addressing inequalities head-on”.