Inequalities: the Main Barrier to Ending AIDS

Inequalities: the Main Barrier to Ending AIDS

Just last June, the member states of the United Nations (UN) signed a joint declaration to define the strategy that leads to a primary objective: to end AIDS by 2030.

The main commitment made by the 193 member countries was to end social inequalities and thus achieve the necessary conditions to end AIDS by 2030. Among the strategies to achieve this is, for example, giving greater participation to the community In other words, that HIV prevention and care services are directed by the most affected communities themselves.

It is about guiding the world towards ending AIDS, which is the disease caused by HIV. In other words, all the strategies developed between now and 2030 aim to ensure that fewer and fewer people are infected with HIV and that none of them reach the stage of AIDS.

Along the same lines, and one month after the Political Declaration resulting from that meeting was issued, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) published its annual report on the status of the pandemic, echoing the approach with a very clear title: Confronting inequalities.

In this document, in addition to reporting on the progress that the world has made against HIV, UNAIDS brings social inequalities to the table as a fundamental factor that makes HIV impact some communities more strongly than others.

Poverty, lack of access to education, gender violence, discrimination, and criminalization of certain activities (such as same-sex relationships, sex work, or drug use) are the main causes behind the uneven progression of HIV.

Read the declaration here. 

WHO is Also Updated

For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) is also adjusting to this new approach and, at the same time as UNAIDS, presented its new consolidated Guidelines for HIV prevention and care.

This document should serve as a guide for the various health institutions around the world to consult the best strategies to address the pandemic, which in 2021 celebrates 40 years since its creation.

The new WHO Guidelines provide a series of science-based recommendations, including public health, human rights, and a people-centered approach. This implies that the user, whether it be for HIV prevention or care services, will be the most important thing in all public policy.

The new recommendations include the most effective strategies to promote screening tests, the latest in antiretroviral drug use, and the use of wearable technologies for monitoring people under treatment.

As for HIV testing, they pose a challenge to get them to the people who need them, so that those living with HIV can be located and referred to treatment.

In this next stage, of treatment, a great challenge is to facilitate medical follow-up as much as possible, and it has been observed that this is achieved with less frequent visits to the hospital so that follow-up does not represent a burden for the person.

The WHO Guidelines also provide guidance on how to treat the presence of other infections in people with HIV, such as tuberculosis, which has historically been a disease that has greatly affected this population, but also presents new approaches to treat cervical cancer, visceral leishmaniasis  and other diseases commonly associated with HIV.

Global Goals for 2025

The 2021 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS includes a series of objectives to be met by 2025 so that the way can be paved in order to end AIDS by 2030. Among them are:

  • End the inequalities.
  • Prioritize combined prevention (that services are available to the most affected population groups).
  • Recognition of key populations: men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, sex workers, transgender people, and people in prison.
  • Goals 95-95-95: reach 95% of people with HIV detected (through tests), 95% of them in treatment, and 95% of people in treatment with undetectable viral load
  • Undetectable = untransmittable, that is, people with HIV but with an undetectable viral load who cannot transmit the virus.
  • Elimination of HIV infections in children (through detection and treatment of 95% of pregnant women).
  • Investment in the response to AIDS by investing 29 billion dollars annually.
  • Ensure sexual and reproductive health.
  • Make medicines, vaccines, and other health technologies for HIV and related diseases accessible.
  • Recognition of community leadership.

At AHF Latin America and the Caribbean, we are committed to achieving these goals and for people to know their HIV status and facilitate access to medicine. Because detecting HIV early is living. Learn about our services (free tests, condoms, counseling, and link to treatment) locate a center in your country and if you have any questions, write to us via WhatsApp.