Over the past decade, it has been possible to significantly expand access of HIV-infected people to antiretroviral drugs and condoms. The number of deaths from AIDS-related diseases has nearly halved, and the number of new infections among adults has decreased by 19 percent. However, this success has not affected everyone: in the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, during the same period, the number of new HIV infections increased by 30 percent.
“When 18 years ago, the UN General Assembly held its first special session devoted to this epidemic, it was impossible to imagine a world without AIDS. Since then, the fight against the immunodeficiency virus has made incredible progress, ”says the Secretary-General’s report, which was discussed today at a meeting of the UN General Assembly on the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV / AIDS.
Between 2008 and 2017, AIDS mortality was reduced by 43 percent, the number of new infections among children — by 45 percent, and among adults — by 19 percent. The number of people who got access to treatment increased by five and a half times. In 2017, out of 36 million infected people, over 21 million received treatment.
“The tremendous achievements of the last decades in the fight against HIV, which have been achieved under the auspices of UNAIDS, are one of the most successful examples of the effectiveness of multilateral initiatives. And this clearly shows what can be achieved if we unite efforts around a common goal, ”said Maria Fernanda Espinosa.
However, impressive progress in fighting the HIV epidemic, as noted by the UN Secretary-General, is not observed everywhere. Dozens of countries and entire regions will not be able to complete their tasks.
“In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, for example, the number of new HIV infections has increased by 30 percent since 2010, and in the Middle East and North Africa, the death rate from AIDS-related diseases increased by 11 percent over the same period,” - noted in the report of the Secretary-General. The problems that prevent the eradication of AIDS are many, and they vary from country to country. But the main reason for this state of affairs is criminal prosecution for same-sex relationships, injecting drug use and sexual services.
For example, in 68 countries around the world, laws and regulations that criminalize same-sex sexual relations still exist. In 17 countries, transgender people are being prosecuted. In 116 countries, the services of prostitutes are considered crime, and in 33 countries they are executed for drug-related crimes. All these measures are driving people underground. They are afraid to seek help, to be tested. This means that the virus is detected at a late stage, treatment begins late, many do not comply with the treatment regimen and thus increases the risk of spreading the disease.
Nevertheless, according to the UN Secretary-General, “most countries in all regions with any income level have opportunities” to end the AIDS epidemic as a threat to public health by 2030 ”.