New numbers on the global AIDS epidemic show some big successes, such as fewer deaths and new infections. But there are also some tragic failures: Only half the children with HIV, the virus that causes the disease, are getting treatment.
“We are making great progress against the HIV epidemic ... but the bad, bad news is that kids are lagging behind,” said Dr. Shannon Hader, deputy executive director of UNAIDS. The United Nations agency reported last year's numbers Monday at the start of an international AIDS conference.
Progress against HIV also is being hurt by another infectious disease — the new coronavirus. Four years ago, the United Nations set goals for limiting HIV infections and improving treatment by the end of 2020, and all will be missed because the coronavirus pandemic is hurting access to care, the report concludes.
“We were already off track for the 2020 targets, but COVID-19 is threatening to blow us completely of course,” said UNAIDS’ executive director, Winnie Byanyima.
A World Health Organization survey found that 73 countries are at risk of running out of HIV medicines and 24 have critically low stocks.
“Access to HIV medicines has been significantly curtailed” since the coronavirus pandemic began, said WHO's chief, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We must not turn our backs” on HIV while fighting COVID-19, he said.
Here are highlights from the UNAIDS report: