UNAIDS Urges Caribbean To Adopt Ambitious New Targets To Tackle HIV/AIDS

(CMC) — The United Nations specialised agency, UNAIDS, is appealing to Caribbean and other countries to adopt ambitious new targets to tackle HIV/AIDS to avoid hundreds of thousands of additional infections and deaths linked to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In its appeal, the UNAIDS warned that the pandemic has pushed the world’s AIDS response even further off track, and that 2020 targets are being missed.

It urged the countries to learn from the lessons of underinvesting in healthcare and to step up global action to end AIDS and other global health emergencies.

Citing new data showing the pandemic’s long-term impact on global HIV response, UNAIDS said that there could be up to nearly 300,000 additional new HIV infections between now and 2022, and up to 148,000 more AIDS-related deaths.

The UN said the Caribbean is second to sub-Saharan Africa in the prevalence of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

“The collective failure to invest sufficiently in comprehensive, rights-based, people-centred HIV responses has come at a terrible price,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Implementing just the most politically palatable programs will not turn the tide against COVID-19 or end AIDS.

“To get the global response back on track will require putting people first and tackling the inequalities on which epidemics thrive,” she added.

Although countries in sub-Saharan Africa including Botswana and Eswatini have achieved or even exceeded targets set for 2020, “many more countries are falling way behind”, said UNAIDS in a new report, “Prevailing against pandemics by putting people at the centre.”

UNAIDS said the document contains a set of proposed targets for 2025 that are based on the actions of countries that been most successful in overcoming HIV.

Specifically, the goals focus on a high coverage of HIV and reproductive and sexual health services, together with the removal of punitive laws, policies, stigma and discrimination.

“Far greater investments” in pandemic response will be needed along with “bold, ambitious but achievable HIV targets”, UNAIDS said.

“They put people at the centre, the people most at risk and the marginalised – young women and girls, adolescents, sex workers, transgender people, people who inject drugs, and gay men and other men who have sex with men,” it added.

UNAIDS said if these targets are met,” the world will be back on track to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030″.