We can end AIDS by 2030. Some countries are making remarkable progress, showing us what is possible. But globally, we are simply not bending the curves fast enough to stop the AIDS pandemic.
In this report the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) issues a stark warning. The red light is flashing. Progress against AIDS, which was already off track, is now under even greater strain as the COVID-19 crisis continues to rage, disrupting HIV prevention and treatment services, schooling, violence-prevention programmes and more.
Analysis in this report shows that millions of lives will be lost from AIDS-related causes if we carry on as we are—if we do not rapidly expand coverage to stop new infections and deaths and bring the pandemic to end.
And make no mistake: AIDS remains a pandemic. To stop it we urgently need a bolder view of pandemic response that is capable of tackling the inequalities prolonging the AIDS pandemic. Many of these missing pieces to fight HIV are also allowing the COVID-19 pandemic to continue and leaving us dangerously unprepared for pandemics of the future.
Leaders took a major step forward this year at the United Nations General Assembly when they agreed to a bold plan to tackle those inequalities. Making that plan a reality depends now on determined and rapid follow-through.
By acting boldly together, leaders are bringing together cutting-edge science, services that meet people’s needs, the protection of human rights, and sustained financing. These actions are making AIDS-related deaths and new HIV infections rare. But this is only the case in some places and for some people.
World leaders must work together urgently to tackle these challenges head-on. We have a very clear sense of the right direction. But right now, in too many cases, we are not heading in it fast enough. Some are even heading in the wrong direction.
Through fighting the AIDS pandemic, we have learned a lot about what is needed to successfully confront AIDS and all pandemics. The world must not choose between ending the AIDS pandemic that is raging today and preparing for the pandemics of tomorrow. The only successful approach will achieve both. As of today, we are not on track to achieve either.
The good news is that inequality-busting approaches have been proven to work, even in the most challenging contexts. Now they need to be rapidly applied at scale everywhere.