Thirty years after the first World AIDS Day, the response to HIV stands at a crossroads. This is according to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in a message to mark World AIDS Day which will be commemorated tomorrow, December 1.
According to Guterres, “Which way we turn may define the course of the epidemic—whether we will end AIDS by 2030, or whether future generations will carry on bearing the burden of this devastating disease.”
He noted that more than 77 million people have become infected with HIV, and more than 35 million have died of an AIDS-related illness. But huge progress has been made in diagnosis and treatment, and prevention efforts have avoided millions of new infections, he quipped.
He, however, noted that “the pace of progress is not matching global ambition. New HIV infections are not falling rapidly enough.Some regions are lagging behind, and financial resources are insufficient.”
Added to this, Guterres said that stigma and discrimination are still holding people back, especiallykey populations— including gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgenders, people who inject drugs, prisoners and migrants—and young women and adolescent girls. Moreover, one in four people living with HIV do not know that they have the virus, impeding them from making informed decisions on prevention, treatment and other care and support services, Guterres said.
He noted though that “There is still time — to scale-up testing for HIV; to enable more people to access treatment; to increase resources needed to prevent new infections; and to end the stigma. At this critical juncture, we need to take the right turn now.”