By Winnie Byanyima & Matthew Kavanagh / The Guardian

In a pandemic, when policy falls short, people die. Amid the growing Covid-19 pandemic and the continuing HIV pandemic, this is clearer today than ever before. From rules on access to testing to the distribution of new medical technologies or the use of criminal law in public health, policymaking is fraught. This World Aids Day, the global Aids response stands on a precipice.

Actions in the next few years will either tip us towards halting HIV, making deaths and new infections rare, or towards a resurgent virus thriving on social faultlines.

However, science means little when laws and policies drive inequality and stop the benefits being reaped.

A new report from the HIV Policy Lab shows the disconnect between what we know and how that is translated into policy. The 2020 Global HIV Policy Report shows that only a handful of countries have aligned even 80% of policies with international standards. Only a third make HIV prevention medicines available to everyone who is at substantial risk. Without that, they cannot put the new evidence on long-acting drugs to work.