In Malawi, an HIV patient receives her triple therapy drugs.
The COVID-19 pandemic, including disrupting access to treatment and prevention services, has stalled progress in the fight against AIDS, UNAIDS warned in its annual report.
Over the past two years, multiple and simultaneous crises that have shaken the world have had a devastating impact on people infected with HIV, and set back the world's response to the AIDS pandemic , warns this report published on the occasion of the International AIDS Conference in Montreal.
While global HIV infections continued to decline last year (by 3.6% from 2020), this was the smallest reduction since 2016.
About 1.5 million new HIV infections were reported in 2021, or more than 4,000 people per day.
And 650,000 people died of AIDS last year, or one death per minute.
The number of HIV-positive people accessing treatment also continued to rise in 2021, but only by 1.47 million, compared to 2 million in previous years. This is the smallest increase since 2009.
The most vulnerable populations, especially the poorest, are the most affected, the report points out.
He also points out that the gap in access to treatment between children and adults is widening, instead of closing. In 2021, while 70% of adults living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy, only 41% of children were. That's about 800,000 HIV-positive children receiving no treatment.
Children accounted for 4% of the population living with HIV in 2021, but 15% of virus-related deaths.
People who inject drugs, sex workers and gay men were still considered the highest risk groups.
More funds must be committed now to reach the goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, UNAIDS argues.
In 2021, international resources available to fight HIV were 6% less generous than in 2010.
Leaders should not take this huge red alert for a stop sign, writes UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima. This report is not an admission of failure. This is a call to action.