UN: UN chief issues new report urging more action to end AIDS epidemic

New York, US (PANA) - A new report by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon,
has warned that the AIDS epidemic could be prolonged indefinitely, if urgent
action is not implemented within the next five years.

The report, entitled: "On the Fast-Track to end the AIDS epidemic", revealed
that the extraordinary acceleration of progress made over the past 15 years
could be lost and urged all governments and partners to concentrate their
efforts to increase and front-load investments to ensure that the global AIDS
epidemic is ended as a public health threat by 2030.

A UN statement on the report, made available to UN reporters on Sunday
in New York, quoted Ban as stating: "The AIDS response has delivered more
than results. It has delivered the aspiration and the practical foundation to
end the epidemic by 2030."

"But, if we accept the status quo unchanged, the epidemic will rebound in
several low- and middle-income countries, and our tremendous investment,
and the world’s most inspiring movement for the right to health, will have
been in vain.

"The review of progress looks at the gains made, particularly since the
2011 UN Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, which accelerated action
by uniting the world around a set of ambitious targets for 2015, and the
progress made has been inspiring," the UN chief noted.

He said: "Reaching 15 million people with anti-retroviral therapy nine
months before the December 2015 deadline is a major global victory."

The statement also said the report outlined that the rapid treatment
scale-up has been a major contributing factor to the 42 per cent decline
in AIDS-related deaths since the peak in 2004, and noted that, this has
caused life expectancy in the countries most affected by HIV to rise
sharply in recent years.

The report stressed the critical role civil society has played in securing
many of the gains made and the leadership provided by people living
with HIV.

It noted that, community efforts have been key to removing many of
the obstacles faced in scaling up the AIDS response, including
reaching people at risk of HIV infection with HIV services, helping
people to adhere to treatment and reinforcing other essential health
services.

"A major area of success has been in reducing new HIV infections
among children. In 2011 UNAIDS and partners launched the Global Plan
towards the elimination of new HIV infections among children by 2015
and keeping their mothers alive at the UN General Assembly High-level
meeting on AIDS.

"In just five years, from 2009 to 2014, new HIV infections have been
halved in the countries that account for 90 per cent of all pregnant
women living with HIV, and some around 85 countries are now poised
to virtually eliminate new HIV infections among children," it stated.

Ban, however, called the shortfalls in the implementation of the 2011
Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS distressing, revealing that,
even  as new HIV prevention tools and approaches have emerged,
HIV prevention programmes have weakened in recent years owing
to inadequate leadership, weak accountability and declining
funding.

The UN chief also noted that new HIV infections declined by just 8
per cent between 2010 and 2014.

In that regard, the report drew attention to regions where new HIV
infections are continuing to rise, namely eastern Europe and central
Asia, where it said that, new HIV infections rose by 30 per cent
between 2000 and 2014, mostly among people who inject drugs, the
Middle East and North Africa and the Asia–Pacific region.

It noted that gender norms that perpetuate inequality continue to
prevail across many societies and that girls and young women remain
particularly affected by HIV.

It said: "Of the 2.8 million young people aged 15-24 years living with
HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, 63 per cent were female."

The report also highlighted that despite the progress made on
expanding access to anti-retroviral therapy, around 22 million people
still do not have access to treatment.

It attributed the most substantial barrier to scaling up HIV treatment
as late diagnosis, highlighting that around half of all people living
with HIV are unaware of their HIV status, stating that, this underscores
the urgency of increasing access to HIV testing, particularly for people
at higher risk of infection.

It said that, despite the challenges there was substantial hope for the
future, stating that if the world can alter the status quo, the AIDS
epidemic can be ended as a public health threat by as soon as 2030.

The report also outlined that the response needs to be inclusive,
accessible and grounded in human rights, and that it must focus on
scaling up services for the people and places most in need.

The report also emphasized the necessity of repealing punitive laws
and repressive policies that criminalize same-sex sexual relations,
people who use drugs and sex workers, since they impede access
to services.

"We must reinforce rights-based approaches, including those that
foster gender equality and empower women, and access to services
must be ensured for the people most affected, marginalized and
discriminated against including people living with HIV.

"Young women and their sexual partners in sub-Saharan Africa,
children and adolescents everywhere, and gay men and other men
who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients, people who
inject drugs, transgender people, people in prison, people with
disabilities, migrants and refugees should also have access to HIV
services," Ban said in the report.  

The report further gave strong emphasis to the links between the
response to HIV and the success of the Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs).

It stressed on the strong links to SDG 3 (ensure healthy lives and
promote well-being for all), SDG 5 (achieve gender equality and
empower women and girls), SDG 10 (reduce inequality in access
to services and commodities), SDG 16 (promote just, peaceful
and inclusive societies) and SDG 17 (revitalize the partnership for
sustainable development).  

It noted that the scale-up of resources in recent years has been a
strong driving force behind the progress made in responding to
HIV.

It estimated that in 2014 US$19.2 billion was available in low-and
middle-income countries for the response to HIV and that by 2020
resources need to increase to an estimated US$26.2 billion to
achieve the 2030 target of ending the AIDS epidemic.

The report urged countries to embrace the UNAIDS Fast-Track
approach to ending the AIDS epidemic, which will require reaching
an ambitious set of goals by 2020, including reducing the numbers
of people newly infected with HIV and people dying from
AIDS-related causes to fewer than 500 000 per annum and
eliminating HIV-related discrimination.

"Targets to reach these goals include reaching the 90-90-90 targets
for 2020, which calls for 90 per cent of people living with HIV to
know their status, 90 per cent of people who know their HIV-positive
status to access treatment and 90 per cent of people on treatment
to have suppressed viral loads," it concluded.
-0-   PANA  AA  8May2016

08 mai 2016 16:45:54




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