As of 2018, about 38 million people in the world are infected with HIV and out of these about 21 million people were living in Africa alone. South Africa, Nigeria and India are the worst affected countries with over 7 million, 3 million and 2 million people with HIV infection respectively. Interestingly, India is on third position with over 2 million of its population infected with HIV; however it has the lowest HIV rate in the world due to its vast population.
UNAIDS acts as a global cogent body that protects HIV infected people from discrimination and aims to provide them a safer environment by creating awareness among the masses. It also provides deliberate and strategic advocacy and cooperates with different governments and private bodies to achieve its goals.
Achievements of UNAIDS.
1) Because of UNAIDS’s effective advocacy, different Government responses towards every aspect of HIV and AIDS was positive with good leadership and management.
2) UNAIDS’s advocacy also inspired many countries to change and abolish discriminatory laws that used to keep HIV patients on the fringes. It also convinced many countries to make laws in favour of women’s rights so that stigma faced by women decreases.
3) In 2019, 67% of all people living with HIV were accessing treatment. 68% of adults aged 15 years old and above had access to treatment, 53% of children had access to treatment and 73% of the female adults also had the access to treatment.
4) About 85% of pregnant women living with HIV had access to antiretroviral medicines to prevent transmission to their child in 2019.
5) UNAIDS also worked a lot in raising awareness about HIV and related stigma all over the world. It focused on myths related to HIV which ultimately led to a positive attitude of public towards HIV patients.
CHALLENGES FACED BY UNAIDS
There are a lot many challenges attached to HIV infection and thus it also becomes difficult for UNAIDS to deal with the issue at times. It is a social difficulty too and HIV patients suffer in silence because misconceptions about HIV.
1) HIV and Violence on women:
Every week, about 5500 young women aged 15-24 years become infected with HIV.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, five in six new infections among adolescents aged 15-19 years are among girls. Young women aged 15-24 years are twice more likely to be living with HIV than their male counterparts.
More than one third (35%) of women around the world have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point of time in their lives.
2) HIV and Tuberculosis:
Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death among people living with HIV, accounting for around one in three AIDS related deaths.
In 2018, an estimated 10 million people developed Tuberculosis and 9% of them had HIV.
3)HIV and COVID-19, newest of all:
A new analysis by UNAIDS has revealed that COVID-19 is going to have a detrimental effect on low and medium income families and countries around the world on supplies of the generic antiretroviral medicines used for HIV treatment.
The lockdowns and border closures imposed by Governments to stop Covid-19 have impacted both production of the medicines and their distribution.
It’s important for us as a society to support the HIV-AIDS patients and their families morally, socially and make a stigma-free environment for them.