Urgent Work for World AIDS Day—and After

HIV-affected children, women, and trafficking victims mark World AIDS Day yesterday in Kathmandu. Image: Prabin Ranabhat/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty
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HIV-affected children, women, and trafficking victims mark World AIDS Day yesterday in Kathmandu. Image: Prabin Ranabhat/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty

In the shadow of COVID-19, the global AIDS response is falling off track—as many countries are failing to take full advantage of scientific advances, according to the 2020 Global HIV Policy Lab Report released to mark World AIDS Day today.

No country has policies fully in line with international standards,according to Georgetown University’s O'Neill Institute. Globally, the 194 countries tracked have adopted, on average, just over half of the policies related to HIV treatment, prevention, and the legal environment.

2 key takeaways from sub-Saharan Africa: 

  • Only one half of countries use the latest WHO-recommended drugs to treat HIV in children

  • 56% of countries still criminalize same-sex relationships, 98% criminalize sex work, and 100% criminalize drug use


Even before COVID-19, progress in scaling up HIV services was already stalling, and the world will miss the “90-90-90” targets for 2020, the WHO says.

In the US, the incoming Biden administration presents an opportunity to refocus priorities—and Chris Beyrer, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Public Health and Human Rights, sets out recommendations in a Lancet commentary

Key suggestions:

  • Close gaps on health-care access and address racism as a public health issue

  • Re-establish the Office of National AIDS Policy (shuttered by the Trump administration)

  • Revive the US tradition of supporting global alliances for health
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