“Over 20 years ago, initiatives for families and children to prevent vertical transmission and to eliminate children dying of AIDS truly kick-started what has now become our global AIDS response. This stemmed from an unprecedented activation of all partners, yet, despite early and dramatic progress, despite more tools and knowledge than ever before, children are falling way behind adults and way behind our goals,” said Shannon Hader, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Programs.
Dr Silvia Bertagnolio, a Medical Officer at the World Health Organisation (WHO) quoted their latest data shared ahead of the International AIDS Society’s (IAS) HIV Science conference which starts on Saturday showing that people living with HIV are at a 30 per cent higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness and death irrespective of their age.
They predict that the countries with the highest coverage of annual HIV testing in 2030 will be Eswatini with 92.6%, Lesotho with 90.5%, and Uganda with 90.5%, and the countries with the highest proportion of condom use will be Eswatini with 85%, Lesotho with 75.6%, and Namibia with 75.5 per cent.
The report – Seizing the Moment – warns that the remarkable achievements made in the fight to end AIDS have not been shared equally within and between countries. Only 14 countries in the world have met the 90-90-90 targets, yet there is no sign to show that a majority of the countries will make progress by the end of 2020, a situation which threatens decades of hard-won gains in the fight against HIV.
According to a survey carried out by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Joint Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) an additional 500,000 HIV related deaths could be reported in Sub-Saharan Africa due to COVID-19 lockdown disruptions
Curtailment of these services by COVID-19 for six months could see new child HIV infections rise drastically, by as much as 37 per cent in Mozambique, 78 per cent in Malawi, 78 per cent in Zimbabwe and 104 per cent in Uganda.
UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima says that although COVID-19 is impacting almost every country and community, the global HIV epidemic hasn’t gone away and people need to be encouraged to remain free from HIV and to be able to enjoy their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Uganda country representative Dr Karusa Kiragu says that when countries announce that they are transitioning to another income status and improving economically, to donors this reflects strong economic performance and greater access to a more diverse set of financing options than Aid
For one to have comprehensive knowledge about HIV, they should be able to identify that using condoms consistently and limiting sex to one uninfected partner are two ways of preventing transition. They should also be able to reject common misconceptions that mosquitoes transmit HIV, that sharing food with an infected person transmits infection and knowing that a healthy-looking person can transmit the virus.