HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) account for 2.3 million deaths per year, which represents 14% of deaths from infectious and parasitic diseases, digestive diseases and cancer and 4% of deaths from all causes worldwide (1). They result in 1 million people newly infected per day and 1.2 million people developing cancer per year and continue to be a major public health burden in terms of mortality, morbidity and quality of life. These communicable diseases share common modes of transmission and determinants and call for a common public health approach along the continuum of prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. Nevertheless, there are key differences in their status in 2020, with important lessons to learn among these diseases and joint opportunities to achieve universal health coverage.

In 2016, WHO Member States adopted three aligned global health sector strategies on HIV, viral hepatitis and STIs, respectively, to guide actions over the period 2016–2021 towards eliminating them as public health threats by 2030. The strategies share a common goal to progress towards universal health coverage, a key priority of WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work 2019–2023 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2,3). The strategies are organized around a common framework that promotes synergy across the diseases and with other programmatic health priorities.

This is the second combined progress report on implementation of these strategies, following the mid-term review of progress at the end of 2018 (4). At the time, the pace of progress was uneven and insufficient to meet global targets by 2030. The number of people dying from HIV-related causes was declining with growing access to treatment, but the number of people newly acquiring HIV was not falling rapidly enough. The global response to hepatitis B and C virus was gaining momentum, but access to testing and treatment remained far below needs, and mortality was increasing. The global response to STIs was in crisis after years of neglect, highlighting an urgent need to revitalize STI prevention. Key and vulnerable populations were not adequately reached with essential interventions, and many opportunities for joint action were being missed. The report called for accelerating progress with integrated and people-centred approaches to end the epidemics as public health threats by 2030.