Ms Amina Mohammed, Deputy UN Secretary-General, has warned that the AIDS pandemic was still far from over, saying more than 36.7 million people are living with HIV globally.
Mohammed told delegations at the General Assembly’s annual review of the Secretary-General’s report, calling for a reinvigorated global response to HIV/AIDS, that tackling it required a life-cycle approach based on community-level solutions.
According to her, global optimism has fuelled a major push to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, the highest ambition within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“I am happy to report that, today, more babies than ever are being born free from HIV. Now we need to do a better job of reaching young women and adolescent girls. This is particularly true for sub-Saharan Africa, where adolescent girls account for three out of four new HIV infections among 15 to 19-year-olds,” she said.
“Achieving our aims on AIDS is interlinked and embedded within the broader 2030 Agenda. Both are grounded in equity, human rights and a promise to leave no one behind,” Mohammed added.
In 2016, the UN political declaration on ending AIDS set the world on a fast-track to stamp out the epidemic by 2030.
In the first phase, countries agreed to reduce new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths to fewer than 500,000 by 2020 and to eliminate HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
However, according to the report, with less than four years to go, progress on reducing new HIV infections among adults had stalled.
The report added that financing for the global response had dried up and more importantly, women and girls continued to bear the brunt of the AIDS epidemic.
“While more than 18 million are now on life-saving treatment, this is just half of those who need it, and there is no decline in the number of new infections each year. People living with HIV who are on treatment can now expect the same life expectancy as someone who is not infected,” the UN chief said.
Mohammed noted that key populations, including sex workers, people who inject drugs, transgender people, and men who have sex with men, remain at much higher risk of HIV infection.
More than 10 million additional people living with HIV must access treatment by 2020, while most of them are unaware of their HIV status.
On his part, President of the General Assembly, Peter Thomson, said that while major advancements have been made, the scale of shortcomings remained deeply concerning.
“Some 1,800 young people a day are being newly infected with the virus, with young women at particular risk. A blunt assessment would say that to date our achievements have been mixed,” Thomson said.
He stressed that ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 required a comprehensive and inclusive approach that also targets education, information and services to people living with HIV and to those at risk.
Adequate funding remains critical to meet the objectives, he added, emphasizing the need to close the seven billion dollars funding gap for the global AIDS response.