Dozens of countries achieved or exceeded ambitious 2020 UN targets to control HIV—but services are still out of reach for many of the world’s most vulnerable, confirms a new UNAIDS report marking tomorrow's 40-year anniversary since the first HIV/AIDS cases were discovered.
- The number of people with HIV on treatment more than tripled from 2010-2020—from 7.8 million to 27.4 million
- Affordable, quality treatment has averted ~16.2 million deaths since 2001
- AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 43% since 2010, to 690,000 in 2020, largely attributable to antiretroviral therapy
- Slower progress toward blocking new HIV infections: 1.5 million people were newly infected with the virus in 2020, compared to 2010’s 2.1 million—a 30% reduction
Countries with progressive policies and strong health systems—tied to better access to effective HIV testing and services, pre-exposure prophylaxis, harm reduction approaches, multi-month supplies of HIV treatment, and consistent, quality follow-up and care—proved most successful.
Countries with punitive laws, like the criminalization of same-sex relationships, fared much worse, pushing services out of reach for groups making up 62% of new HIV infections worldwide—including men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, people in prison, and people who inject drugs.
Next week, the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AIDS in New York will come up with new targets designed to tackle these inequalities.
Covid Adds Urgency to the Fight
South African researchers have discovered potentially dangerous coronavirus mutations in a patient with uncontrolled HIV who took nearly 8 months to shake off COVID-19.
The patient could be an outlier. If not, the implications are global; patients whose infections aren’t controlled with medication could “become a factory of variants for the whole world,” said Tulio de Oliveira, a geneticist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Silver lining: Addressing HIV and COVID-19 synergistically could present “a golden opportunity to control the HIV epidemic and protect the world from variants,” said De Oliveira, who led the forthcoming study.
Los Angeles Times
HIV services in sub-Saharan Africa: the greatest gap is men – The Lancet (commentary)
Fauci interview: Reaching for a "home run" in AIDS research – Axios
‘Sex for a fare’ motorcycle taxis threaten Uganda’s fight against Aids – The Guardian
Estimated Annual Number of HIV Infections ─ United States, 1981–2019 – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
40 years of AIDS should have taught us epidemiologic humility – STAT