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UN launches innovative plan to significantly cut new HIV infections

Thursday, October 12, 2017

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UNITED NATIONS, United States (CMC) — The United Nations has launched an innovative plan to significantly reduce new HIV infections in the Caribbean and other places.

On Wednesday, the UN said despite a 50 per cent drop in AIDS-related deaths since the peak of the epidemic, new HIV infection declines among adults are lagging, prompting the world body to launch the 0-point plan that lays out “immediate, concrete steps countries can take to accelerate progress.”

As part of global efforts to end AIDS as a public health threat, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and other partners launched on Tuesday the HIV prevention 2020 road map at the first meeting of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition to reduce new HIV infections by 75 per cent by 2020.

“Scaling up treatment alone will not end AIDS,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, in a statement.

“We need more energy and action put into HIV prevention — stronger leadership, increased investment and community engagement to ensure that everyone, particularly people at higher risk of HIV, can protect themselves against the virus,” he added.

While new HIV infections among children have fallen by 47 per cent since 2010, the UN said new HIV infections among adults have declined by only 11 per cent.

In 2016, in the UN Political Declaration on ending AIDS, Caribbean and other countries committed to reduce new HIV infections by 75 per cent — from 2.2 million in 2010 to 500,000 in 2020.

The new road map will fast-track countries to achieve this target, the UN said.

“In many places, lack of access to education, lack of agency and lack of autonomy over their own bodies keep adolescent girls from claiming their human rights,” UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanem said.

“And the poorest girls have the least power to decide whether, when or whom to marry and whether, when or how often to become pregnant,” she added. “This lack of power makes each one of these girls extremely vulnerable to HIV infection, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.”

The UN said the HIV prevention 2020 road map contains action plans, such as conducting up-to-date analysis to assess where maximum impact opportunities lie; developing guidance to identify gaps and actions for rapid scale-up; and addressing legal and policy barriers to reach the people most affected by HIV, including young people and key populations.

The road map identifies factors that have hindered progress, including political leadership gaps, punitive laws and a lack of HIV prevention services in humanitarian settings, and highlights the importance of community engagement to advocate for service delivery and accountability, the UN said.

“UNAIDS is urging commitment and leadership for measurable results,” Sidibé said.

The UN said cutting new infections by 75 per cent will require a focus on HIV prevention, combined with scaled-up HIV testing and treatment.

“A location-population-based method for efficient planning and programming along with a people-centred approach for those at higher HIV risk will be critical,” it said.

“Concerted efforts will be needed, including to reach adolescent girls, young women and their male partners; to increase the availability and uptake of condoms; and to ensure that preventative medicines are available to people at higher risk of HIV.”

The UN said the road map encourages countries to develop a 100-day plan for immediate actions, including setting national targets, reviewing progress made, reassessing national prevention programmes and taking immediate remedial action.

 

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