The authorities highlight the need to end inequalities in access to new antiretroviral drugs and ask laboratories to manufacture them at prices, especially in the southern continents where there is a higher prevalence of HIV
This week, a new 18-page declaration that commits 193 countries and urges the necessary measures to end AIDS as a health threat has been approved by a majority in the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) global by the year 2030 and that, in addition, warns of the effect of the COVID 19 pandemic in the face of the growth of inequalities and the difficulty in accessing medicines, new treatments and HIV diagnoses.
After the first case of AIDS in 1981, almost 35 million people have died from the same cause and 77.5 million have been infected with HIV. However, since 2001 AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 54% and the number of HIV infections globally has fallen by 37%. Despite this, the authorities are concerned that, in the last five years, overall progress has slowed and the global goal of registering fewer than 500,000 HIV infections by 2020 has not been reached, given that in 2019 this The figure was 1.7 million and has been increasing since 2016 in at least 33 countries.
Of all the areas, Africa is the most affected region but also the one that has made the greatest progress in responding to the HIV epidemic, mainly sub-Saharan Africa, which called for urgent and exceptional measures to be able to halt the progress and effects of AIDS , especially in children, adolescents and women. In the rest of the areas, the number of new HIV infections would have increased in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, while in part of Asia and the Pacific, in the Caribbean, Western and Central Europe and North America would have declined, despite the fact that the Caribbean islands continue to have the highest prevalence outside of sub-Saharan Africa.
With the new declaration, the 193 member countries of the assembly have pledged to reduce the number of new annual HIV infections to less than 370,000 by 2025 and the number of annual AIDS-related deaths to 250,000. In addition, the document urges progress in eliminating stigma and discrimination related to HIV and puts the urgency in finding a vaccine and a cure against HIV.
The resolution went ahead with only 4 countries voting against: Nicaragua, Syria, Belarus and Russia. The latter proposed three amendments that were rejected by a large majority and among which included the elimination of references to human rights violations that would perpetuate the global AIDS epidemic and the reform of discriminatory laws such as the age of consent or interventions in users of intravenous drugs to treat HIV, including opioid substitution therapy or the expansion of harm reduction programs. Furthermore, it rejected the collaborative, human rights-based approach to the HIV response of UNAIDS, the UN agency dedicated to leading the fight against AIDS.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been very present in the assembly and the authorities have warned of the setback it has caused in the fight against HIV since it has created more inequality in a world quite affected by it and has exposed the danger of have a health system with insufficient investment. On the other hand, this pandemic has also revealed that science moves at the speed that political will goes and that greater spending is necessary for the innovation of treatments, prevention, care and related vaccines to be able to end HIV and AIDS everywhere.
At the assembly, Spain highlighted its improvement, since 2018, in the coverage and financing of antiretroviral treatments, as well as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and pre-exposure (PrEP) and the reduction of stigma by prohibiting the exclusion of older people with HIV in any residence, public or private with arranged places, and in access to public service positions. He also stated that he was committed to reaching the UNAIDS 2025 target of 95% of people with HIV being diagnosed; 95% of them receive antiretroviral treatment; and that 95% of them have an undetectable viral load. These objectives together with the so-called "0% discrimination" would be found in the Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of HIV infection and other STIs 2021-2030 prepared by the Secretariat of the National Plan on AIDS (SPNS).
The authorities celebrate this new declaration that will be the basis for ending the pandemic after 40 years affecting society as long as it is accompanied by an increase in resources and greater coverage for those most vulnerable to acquiring the infection or those who already living with HIV. Although they fear that the pandemic could resurface due to the consequences of COVID 19, they urge to work together in all sectors and in all countries since separately it would be impossible to eradicate HIV from society.
You can read the full Declaration in Spanish in the following link.
Source: APNews / Elaboración propia (gTt-VIH)
References: Nota de prensa del Ministerio de Sanidad (09/06/2021): Carolina Darias: "Está en nuestras manos erradicar la transmisión del VIH y mejorar la vida de las personas que viven con él"