UNAIDS released its midterm report, Ending AIDS Progress: Towards the 90-90-90 Targets. The report shows that gaps on the “90-90-90” continuum of testing, treatment, and viral suppression remain greater among men, young people, and key populations (KPs), including men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs. Challenges in achieving global targets include gender inequality and harmful gender norms entrenched in cultural practices and laws, the influence of masculine ideology on risk-taking behaviors, insufficient access to comprehensive sexuality education, and stigma, discrimination and criminalization of key populations. Ending AIDS and achieving Sustainable Development Goals require political will and urgent action to address these barriers.

According to the report, the Asia-Pacific region, where HIV is predominantly located among KPs, lags behind in treatment of people who know their status (only 66% of 90% who know their HIV status access treatment). The data varies widely varied across countries. Regionally, there is an overall 13% decline in new infections. The majority of new infections are seen in 10 Asia-Pacific countries:  China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Viet Nam. These countries also have harsh laws criminalizing key populations; recent studies show that criminalizing laws and policies impede effective implementation of national programs to end AIDS. A recent study conducted in China, where sex work is illegal, found that the use of condoms as evidence of sex work by the police conflicted with the government’s plan to reduce HIV transmission through promotion of condom use. 

As UNAIDS’ report emphasizes, a world without AIDS can only be achieved by placing the communities that are most affected at the center of the response. This includes meaningful community involvement in programs and policies, and effective stakeholder partnerships across the continuum of care spectrum. Community monitoring and stakeholder accountability can also support countries to fulfill their commitments.

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