Health experts worry over 2020 HIV/AIDS target, medicines supply amidst COVID-19 pandemic
London, July 8, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Leading experts and scientist attending the 23rd International Conference on HIV/AIDS 2020 are worried that the 90-90-90 90 target to ending the AIDS epidemic , will not be met because of inequalities caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We cannot have poor countries at the back of the queue. It should not depend on the money in your pocket or the colour of your skin to be protected against these deadly viruses. We cannot take money from one disease to treat another. Both HIV and COVID-19 must be fully funded if we are to avoid massive loss of life.”saidUNAIDS Executive Director Ms Winnie Byanyima UNAIDS Executive Director
Similarly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says 73 countries have warned that they are at risk of stock-outs of Antiretroviral (ARV) medicines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It said the 73 countries warned about the risk of stock-outs of ARV, according to a new WHO survey conducted ahead of the International AIDS Society’s biannual conference.
While presenting the 2020 Global AIDS update, entitled Seizing the Moment: Tackling entrenched inequalities to end epidemics, Ms Byanyima said it was time to close the gaps as she looked at the potential impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic which could have on the low and middle income countries on the supplies of generic antiretroviral medicines used in the treatment of HIV.“We cannot drop the ball on HIV. We must double down and increase our efforts to hold governments and policy makers to account. Epidemics run along the fault lines of inequalities and we can and must close the gaps.
Sharing findings from a new survey by the World Health Organisation, (WHO) which showed significant disruptions in access to HIV treatment because of the COVID-19 pandemic, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus examined the links between HIV/AIDS and COVID-19, which were deeply concerning.
Dr Tedros said, “Countries and their development partners must do all they can to ensure that people who need HIV treatment continue to access it. We cannot let the COVID-19 pandemic undo the hard-won gains in the global response to this disease.”
So far about 14 countries including Eswatini, Botwasna and Namibia have already reached the 90–90–90 targets, 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people diagnosed HIV infection are on Antiretroviral treatment and 90% of people on Antiretroviral treatment have a suppressed viral load, and more countries are on track. The largest gap is in the first 90; in western and central Africa, for example, only 48% of people living with HIV know their status.
There has been progress in eastern and southern Africa, where new HIV infections have reduced by 38% since 2010. This is in stark contrast to eastern Europe and central Asia, which has seen a staggering 72% rise in new HIV infections since 2010. New HIV infections have also risen in the Middle East and North Africa, by 22%, and by 21% in Latin America. “We cannot rest on our successes, nor be discouraged by setbacks. We must ensure that no one is left behind. We must close the gaps. We are aiming for 100–100–100,” said Ambrose Dlamini, the Prime Minister of Eswatini.
Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the most affected as Women and girls accounted for 59% of all new HIV infections in the region in 2019, with 4500 adolescent girls and young women between 15 and 24 years old becoming infected with HIV every week.