Global fight against HIV in danger amid resource crunch, says UN

WASHINGTON: The global fight against HIV has stalled from shrinking resources due to COVID-19 and other crises, according to a new report presented at the International AIDS Conference in Montreal, Canada.

Across the world, new HIV infections fell just 3.6 per cent between 2020 and 2021, the smallest annual drop since 2016, said the UNAIDS report, titled In Danger.

About 1.5 million new infections occurred last year – more than a million over global targets of fighting the virus.

“The response to the AIDS pandemic has been derailed by global crises from the colliding pandemics of HIV and COVID, to the war in Ukraine and the resulting global economic crisis,” UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima told reporters.

New infections climbed in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America, in line with trends over several years.

Asia and the Pacific saw a slight rise, bucking previous declines.

Bright spots included western and central Africa – the latter driven largely by Nigeria – and the Caribbean.

“COVID-19 and other instabilities have disrupted health services in much of the world, and millions of students have been out of school, increasing their HIV vulnerability,” the report said.

Globally, 38.4 million people were living with HIV in 2021, with 650,000 deaths from AIDS-related illnesses.

Young women and adolescent girls were disproportionately impacted, with a new infection occurring in this population every two minutes.

Sub-Saharan Africa still accounts for the majority of new infections – 59 per cent in 2021 – but that proportion is decreasing as the decline in new cases slows in the rest of the world.


The report comes as high-income countries are cutting back aid.

In 2021, international resources available for HIV were six percent lower than in 2010, with bilateral assistance from the United States down 57 per cent over the past decade.

The UN says the HIV response in low- and middle-income countries is US$8 billion short of the amount needed by 2025.