The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, says an estimated 123,000 to 293,000 additional HIV infections and 69,000 to 148,000 additional AIDS-related deaths will occur globally based on its most recent modelling of pandemic’s long-term impact on the HIV response.
It also revealed that 150,000 children were newly infected with HIV in 2019, which is eight times higher than the target of less than 20,000 infant infections by 2020.
The Executive Director, UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima, disclosed this while addressing the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board on Tuesday.
She said while there are tools and commitments to prevent every new HIV infection, there have been great failure at preventing HIV infections, adding, “We have failed to protect children from HIV.”
The UNAIDS chief said In the face of inequalities and the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs detailed, focused strategies and AIDS response that meets complexity to prevent growing HIV infections.
She said, “At the global level, we will miss each of the 2020 targets because progress for some has been offset by the majority of countries and communities where progress is not on track or are even facing growing HIV epidemics.
“COVID-19 is knocking us even further off course. Yet even as it does, strong and resilient AIDS responses are proving powerful tools to fight COVID-19 from the medical, social, and economic perspectives,” said
“In the face of inequalities, we need an AIDS response that meets that complexity. We do not need the same AIDS response in each region, country or for each population in a given city.
We need detailed, focused strategies and we can build them.
“Pandemics are unique public crises. They require urgency and a multi-sectoral response. We cannot focus only on the health sector, social change, governance or finance. We need to focus on it all at the same time.”
Continuing, Byanyima said, “As we move ahead in the AIDS response and as UNAIDS, we need to see at a granular level where we have failed to put all the pieces together and fill those gaps.
“We will not just end the AIDS crisis but help build pandemic-resilient societies.
“We now know that our HIV responses will always be threatened and destabilized by new pandemics unless we are prepared and address long-term fragilities, inequalities and injustices,”
“We are addressing the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID-19 and mitigating the negative impacts on people living with and at risk of HIV infection.”
Byanyima said the agency has remained a leading advocate for equitable access to vaccine against COVID-19.
She noted that in over 80 countries, UNAIDS staff are working with communities, governments and partners to respond to the dual COVID-19 and HIV pandemics, and to build on the experience and infrastructure from the AIDS response.
“Building on 25 years of UNAIDS activism for equitable access to medicines, UNAIDS has been a leading advocate for a peoples vaccine against COVID-19, a vaccine that everyone can access, wherever they live, free of charge,”
“With less than two weeks until the 2020 targets expire, it is unacceptable that none of the global targets will be met.
“There will have been 3.5 million more HIV infections and 820,000 more AIDS-related deaths than if the world had achieved the 2020 targets,” Byanyima said.
She explained that the Global AIDs Strategy is designed to guide data-driven responses that are tailored to each epidemiological context, as well as provide clear lines of accountability for different stakeholders.
“It includes a set of ambitious but achievable targets for the end of 2025.
“We must develop an organization that is fit to deliver on our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic, is relevant to the current global context and positioned to best leverage the resources of the reformed UN system in country,”
“We are transforming our internal culture in line with the objectives of the Management Action Plan.
“We are working to create an equal, safe and empowering UNAIDS which would enable all staff to deliver at their best and maximize their collective results,” she said.
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