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‘Tear Down Inequalities’ to End COVID Pandemic: UNAIDS

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‘Tear Down Inequalities’ to End COVID Pandemic: UNAIDS

According to UNAIDS Global AIDS Update 2021 (bit.ly/3B2n3RA), people living with HIV are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness (bit.ly/3eiK5tK) and death, but the vast majority are denies him access to life. -Saving vaccines.

Although key populations and their sexual partners account for 65 percent of new HIV infections, they are largely left out of responses to HIV and COVID-19, including 800,000 children living with HIV.

“We have been fighting HIV for 40 years. Both successes and failures have taught us that we cannot prepare for or overcome a pandemic unless we eliminate inequalities, promote people-centered and rights-based approaches, and work together with communities to reach all those in need. ”Said UNAIDS Director Winnie Byanyima. .

Amazing statistics

Studies from England and South Africa have found that the risk of dying from COVID-19 among people living with HIV is twice that of the general population. In sub-Saharan Africa, home to 67 percent of people living with HIV, less than three percent have even received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to date. At the same time, HIV prevention and treatment services are bypassing key populations, as well as children and adolescents. “We have not been able to learn the lessons of HIV when millions were denied life-saving drugs and died due to inequalities in access,” said Ms Byanyima.

Global South ‘in crisis’

As rich countries and corporations cling tightly to the lucrative monopoly of producing and delivering COVID-19 supplies, millions of lives in the developing world are at stake due to lack of access. This is seriously affecting the world as health systems in developing countries are overwhelmed, as in Uganda, where football stadiums are being turned into makeshift hospitals. “The rich countries of Europe are preparing to enjoy the summer, as their populations have easy access to COVID-19 vaccines, while the global South is in crisis,” said Ms Byamyima.

Key populations

The new UNAIDS report illustrates how COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions have severely disrupted HIV testing, with many countries showing steep drops in HIV diagnoses, referrals to care and initiation of HIV treatment.

About 1.5 million new HIV infections reported last year were predominantly among transgender women, sex workers, gay men, injecting drug users and their sexual partners – key populations that account for 65 percent of global infections. These populations also accounted for 93 percent of new HIV infections outside sub-Saharan Africa and 35 percent within. However, in most countries, they remain marginalized and largely unable to access HIV-related services.

Most vulnerable children

While HIV testing and treatment have expanded tremendously in the past 20 years, service gaps remain much larger for children than for adults, according to the report. Last year, treatment coverage was 74 percent for adults but only 54 percent for children, leaving about 800,000 high and dry. In addition, many children were not tested for HIV at birth and their HIV status is unknown, making it difficult to find and care for them. “This is totally unacceptable,” said the UNAIDS top official.

Poor at the end of the line

Poverty and lack of schooling are also formidable barriers 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. They are also a driver of migration, severely affecting access to HIV services and putting lives at risk as migrants flee conflict and poverty in search of safety and economic security. “Billionaires sail their yachts in the same Mediterranean waters in which migrants drown. ”Said the head of UNAIDS. “How can we stand by and let this be the ‘new normal’?

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