Interview: Ending AIDS makes progress, but fails to take it to scale: UNAIDS chief

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 7, 2020
Adjust font size:

GENEVA, July 6 (Xinhua) -- The latest report released by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) on the global acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic shows that the world has achieved a measure of success in reducing the number of new infections and in reaching the ambitious "90-90-90" targets, but it also reveals failures, which shows that the task is still big, the head of UNAIDS said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

The "90-90-90" targets for 2020 were set in 2014. They foresee the diagnosis of 90 percent of all people living with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus); treating 90 percent of those who know their status; and suppressing the virus in 90 percent of people in treatment.


According to the 2020 UNAIDS "Global AIDS Update" released on Monday, significant progress has been achieved worldwide in accelerating the expansion of HIV services since the United Nations (UN) General Assembly agreed four years ago to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. However, "all global targets for 2020 will be missed" for this campaign, largely due to "too few resources" invested and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

That is why "we called (the report) 'Seizing the Moment'," said UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima. "Our progress towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 was already off track before the COVID-19 outbreak," she warned in the report. "Now this crisis has the potential to blow us even further off course."

According to the UNAIDS chief, today 38 million people (many of them young) live with HIV, of whom 25.4 million are on treatment. This means that 12.6 million are still waiting for treatment. Last year, around 690,000 people died of AIDS-related illnesses, which is way above the target of 500,000 set in 2010.

"But we see that some countries, with the political will putting the resources there, they have brought these deaths down." South Africa, for example, has reduced the death rate by 53 percent in 10 years, while the global average is 23 percent. "If one country can do it, we can do it in other countries, too."

Byanyima underlined that deaths due to HIV infection occur mostly among vulnerable groups, such as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people, sex workers and people who inject drugs, who live on the margins of society and whose rights are not respected. "That is why we are seeing more deaths in central and southern Africa."

She confirmed that UNAIDS is currently drafting a new strategy, and will bring a resolution before the UN General Assembly next year calling for new and more ambitious target.

UNAIDS currently aims to end the global AIDS epidemic by 2030.

Recalling that two-thirds of the people infected with HIV live in Africa, Byanyima specified the areas where progress must be made on the continent, including reducing the higher vulnerability of women and girls.

"This is about addressing those structural barriers, the inequalities that drive girl's and women's high vulnerability, like keeping them in school, like access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, like access to comprehensive sexual education."


In this context, the UNAIDS chief highlighted China's role in supporting Africa's efforts to strengthen its health services, especially in the fight against AIDS.

"China has a strong relationship with Africa, which has existed for many years. We see China supporting the African countries efforts in strengthening their health systems; we see China supporting the new African center for disease control and prevention, a very important center for the whole region. China also helps in the fight against epidemics, especially HIV and COVID-19. So, this is an important relationship."

She said that UNAIDS maintains a good relationship with the Chinese government. "Every year we take technical teams to China for exchanges with Chinese scientists, Chinese technologists and others in order to share knowledge and to build capacities in Africa. This is very good support. China also chaired a UNAIDS board last year, giving us strategic direction and supporting us.

"One thing we have learned from the COVID-19 crisis is that no one is safe until everyone is safe. We need a multilateral system," Byanyima said. "China is a strong defender of the multilateral system. On the health issue, we continue to enjoy the support of China through the United Nations, and for that, we are grateful."

She encouraged all governments to look at health issues as global issues and not to look inward to find solutions for themselves. "China made a statement about a vaccine being a global public good. We want to encourage China to stick to that statement. And if China develops a vaccine, it should deliver it as a global public good." Enditem

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from