From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has lamented the growing inequalities as regards access to services for people living with HIV/Aids in the world.
The UN Agency said the implication of the situation is that some countries of the world would be unable to meet the global target of eradicating HIV/AIDS by 2030, thus stressing that urgent action is required to tackle inequalities so that AIDS response across the world can be returned on track.
UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, in a statement to commemorate the 2022 World Aids Day, said, “we need to address the intersecting inequalities women face. In areas of high HIV burden, women subjected to intimate partner violence face up to a 50 per cent higher chance of acquiring HIV.
“Across 33 countries from 2015-2021 only 41 per cent of married women aged 15-24 could make their own decisions on sexual health. The only effective route map to ending AIDS, achieving the sustainable development goals and ensuring health, rights and shared prosperity, is a feminist route map. Women’s rights organizations and movements are already on the frontlines doing this bold work and leaders need to support them and learn from them.”
She said the effects of gender inequalities on women’s HIV risks are especially pronounced in sub- Saharan Africa, where women accounted for 63 per cent of new HIV infections in 2021, while adolescent girls and young women (aged 15 to 24 years) are three times more likely to acquire HIV than adolescent boys and young men of the same age group in sub-Saharan Africa.
“In 2021, children accounted for only four per cent of all people living with HIV but 15 per cent of all AIDS-related deaths. Closing the treatment gap for children will save lives. Discrimination, stigmatization and criminalization of key populations are costing lives and preventing the world from achieving agreed AIDS targets.
“Also, new analysis showed no significant decline in new infections among gay men and other men who have sex with men in both the western and central Africa and eastern and southern Africa regions. Facing an infectious virus, failure to make progress on key populations undermines the entire AIDS response and helps explain slowing progress,” she added.
The UNAIDS boss also confirmed that over 68 countries still criminalize same sex sexual relations, while another analysis highlighted that gay men and other men who have sex with men who live in African countries with the most repressive laws are more than three times less likely to know their HIV status than their counterparts living in countries with the least repressive laws, where progress as far more rapid.
“Similarly, sex workers who live in countries where sex work is criminalized have a seven times greater chance to be living with HIV than in countries where sex work is legal or partially legalized,” she added.