AHF laments 1.5m new HIV infections, says war against AIDS not yet over
Ahead of World AIDS Day tomorrow, December 1, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has said it will commemorate the day with the theme, ‘It’s Not Over’, to remind world leaders, global public health institutions and civil society bodies that much work remains if the world is to, one day, end the AIDS epidemic.
According to Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), there were 1.5 million new HIV infections last year, one million more than the global target of 500,000, and an estimated 650,000 deaths from AIDS-related illnesses, which is why AHF is urging the world to re-light the fire in the HIV/AIDS fight by putting an increased focus on Test & Treat and addressing late HIV presentation.
AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy, Terri Ford, said: “We were glad to see the resiliency of HIV programmes worldwide during and after the pandemic. However, the latest UNAIDS data shows that the global HIV/AIDS response needs reinvigorating, making our ‘It’s Not Over’ theme even more relevant for this year’s World AIDS Day.
She said: “We’re calling on stakeholders and advocates in all countries to intensify HIV prevention, testing, and treatment efforts worldwide to slow the rapidly rising new HIV infection rates and protect the precious gains we’ve made. We’ve come too far in fighting HIV/AIDS to let decades of progress slip away now.”
AHF has planned diverse live and virtual commemorative events throughout its 45-country teams to pay tribute to all who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses and honour those who continue the fight. Advocates will also seek to refocus the world’s attention on HIV/AIDS and the people globally living with or affected by HIV.
In Nigeria, AHF Nigeria, in collaboration with Association of Positive Youths in Nigeria (APYIN) and Positive Access for Treatment Access (PATA), will host a youth dialogue to get stakeholders in the HIV/AIDS corridor engage young people on the peculiar challenges they face.
“The avenue to provide a platform for young people to warehouse and present their issues, while engaging stakeholders, is one which we felt is crucial, in line with the global theme of ‘Equalize’ and AHF campaign theme of ‘It’s Not Over’, said Dr. Echey Ijezie, Country Programme Director, AHF Nigeria.
“These themes reinforce the need for stakeholders to work hard and moderate the impact of existing gaps that address inequalities and help end AIDS,” he said.
According to the most recent UNAIDS statistics, over 38 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, and more than 40 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses, since the start of the HIV epidemic. While millions of people, today, are accessing lifesaving antiretroviral therapies, millions more still desperately need it.
“While the HIV response in parts of Africa has held strong through the adversity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, new HIV infections are rising in others, and young women and girls remain disproportionately affected, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa,” said AHF Africa Bureau Chief, Dr. Penninah Iutung.