UN says global fight against Aids is at 'precarious point'

UN says global fight against Aids is at 'precarious point'

A new report by the International AIDS Society and Lancet Commission, released online on Thursday, says the world was not on track to end AIDS by 2030, as envisioned as part of global Sustainable Development Goals.

Men with same-sex sexual partners are 28 times more likely to contract HIV than their heterosexual counterparts despite a radical reduction in new infections among gay men in Western countries, a United Nations report said on Wednesday.

In addition, a record 21.7 million people are on treatmentan increase of 2.3 million people since the end of 2016, according to the Global AIDS Update 2018. "Time is running out".

"Human rights are universal - no one is excluded, not sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, transgender people, prisoners or migrants", said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS.

"We are sounding the alarm" as "entire regions are falling behind", Sidibe said.

In east and southern Africa, home to 53 percent of people living with HIV in the world, deaths declined by 42 percent from 2010 to 2017, thanks largely to the widespread rollout of treatment. "But Sidibé also pointed to what he said were "crisis" situations in preventing the spread of HIV, and in securing sustained funding..." UNAIDS, which coordinates the organization's global response to HIV/AIDS, estimates that the overall annual number of new HIV infections has dropped from a high of 3.4 million in 1996 to 1.8 million past year.

In fact, the report found that men with same-sex sexual partners are 28 times more likely to contract HIV than their heterosexual counterparts, even despite a radical reduction in new infections among gay men in Western countries. "HIV prevention services are not being provided on an adequate scale. and are not reaching the people who need them the most".

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"Some countries continue to concern us, such as Nigeria which accounts for about half of all new infections in west Africa", said Sidibe.

This is despite the fact that 180,000 children became infected with HIV previous year, missing the 2018 target of protecting all youngsters from the virus, Sidib said.

FILE PHOTO: A student displays his hands painted with messages as he poses during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign to mark the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, in Chandigarh, India, May 20, 2018.

The report also shows that key populations account for nearly half of all new HIV infections worldwide. The report showed the number of people living with the immune system-attacking virus grew from 36.3 million in 2016 to 36.9 million a year ago thanks to widening access to antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Linda-Gail Bekker, president of the International AIDS Society, said the UNAIDS report showed that the biggest barriers to ending the epidemic were "ideological and politically driven". "We can not congratulate ourselves on global progress until that progress is shared by all".

Experts said HIV funding had remained flat in recent years, at about £14.7bn - roughly £5.4bn short of the estimated amount needed to achieve the UNAids targets. "We are not moving at the pace we had set ourselves", Sidibe said. While global AIDS resources rose in 2017, there was still a 20 percent shortfall between what is needed and what is available.

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