The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday approved a declaration calling for urgent action to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
The UN, in the declaration, also lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in healthcare delivery and further reduce access to AIDS medicines, treatments, and diagnosis.
As reported by AP, the new declaration compel the assembly’s 193 member nations to implement the 18-page document, including reducing annual new HIV infections to under 370,000 and annual AIDS-related deaths to under 250,000 by 2025.
It also calls for progress toward eliminating all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination and for urgent work toward an HIV vaccine and a cure for AIDS.
The UN warned that without a huge increase in resources and coverage for those vulnerable and infected, “we will not end the AIDS epidemic by 2030”.
According to the UN, the COVID-19 pandemic has created setbacks in combating AIDS, “widening fault lines within a deeply unequal world and exposing the dangers of under-investment in public health, health systems and other essential public services for all.”
It added that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by many nations has demonstrated “the potential and urgency for greater investment” in responding to pandemics, underscoring “the imperative of increasing investments for public health systems, including responses to HIV and other diseases moving forward”.
The assembly adopted the resolution at the opening session of a three-day high-level meeting on AIDS by a vote of 165-4, with Russia, Belarus, Syria and Nicaragua voting “no.”
Before the vote, the assembly overwhelmingly rejected three amendments proposed by Russia.
Executive Director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima welcomed the declaration’s adoption and told the assembly it “will be the basis of our work to end this pandemic that has ravaged communities for 40 years.”
Calling AIDS “one of the deadliest pandemics of modern times,” Byanyima said 77.5 million people have been infected with HIV since the first case was reported in 1981 and nearly 35 million have died from AIDS.
“HIV rates are not following the trajectory that we together promised,” she said. “Indeed, amidst the fallout from the COVID crisis, we could even see a resurgent pandemic.”
Byanyima said COVID-19 showed that science moves “at the speed of political will” and urged speeded up spending on innovations for AIDS treatment, prevention, care and vaccines “as global public goods.”
Byanyima also noted that it was important to end inequalities in the availability of drugs, and ensuring that medicines that can prevent deaths of people living with HIV are manufactured by multiple producers at affordable prices, “especially in the global south, where the disease is concentrated.”
“This moment calls for us to work together across sectors, across countries,” she said. “Populism’s false promises are proving no match to biology: As COVID reminds us, we’re not just interconnected, we’re inseparable.”
“We cannot end AIDS in one country or one continent. We can only end AIDS everywhere,” she said.
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