World AIDS Day 2020 will be like no other.
COVID-19 is threatening the progress that the world has made in health and development over the past 20 years, including the gains we have made against HIV.
Like all epidemics, it is widening the inequalities that already existed.
Gender inequality, racial inequality, social and economic inequalities. We are becoming a more unequal world.
I am proud that over the past year the HIV movement has mobilized to defend our progress, to protect people living with HIV and other vulnerable groups and to push the coronavirus back.
Whether campaigning for multimonth dispensing of HIV treatment, organizing home deliveries of medicines or providing financial assistance, food and shelter to at-risk groups, HIV activists and affected communities have again shown they are the mainstay of the HIV response. I salute you!
It is the strength within communities, inspired by a shared responsibility to each other, that has contributed in great part to our victories over HIV.
Today, we need that strength more than ever to beat the colliding epidemics of HIV and COVID-19.
Friends, in responding to COVID-19, the world cannot make the same mistakes it made in the fight against HIV, when millions in developing countries died waiting for treatment.
Even today, more than 12 million people are still waiting to get on HIV treatment and 1.7 million people became infected with HIV in 2019 because they could not access essential services.
That is why UNAIDS has been a leading advocate for a People’s Vaccine against the coronavirus.
Global problems need global solidarity.
As the first COVID-19 vaccine candidates have proven effective and safe, there is hope that more will follow, but there are serious threats to ensuring equitable access. We are calling on companies to openly share their technology and know-how and to wave their intellectual property rights so that the world can produce the successful vaccines at the huge scale and speed required to protect everyone and so that we can get the global economy back on track.
Our goal of ending the AIDS epidemic was already off track before COVID-19. We must put people first to get the AIDS response back on track. We must end the social injustices that put people at risk of contracting HIV. And we must fight for the right to health. There is no excuse for governments to not invest fully for universal access to health. Barriers such as up-front user fees that lock people out of health must come down.
Women and girls must have their human rights fully respected, and the criminalization and marginalization of gay men, transgender people, sex workers and people who use drugs must stop.
As we approach the end of 2020, the world is in a dangerous place and the months ahead will not be easy.
Only global solidarity and shared responsibility will help us beat the coronavirus, end the AIDS epidemic and guarantee the right to health for all.
Executive Director of UNAIDS
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
In June 1981, scientists in the United States reported the first clinical evidence of a disease that would later become known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Its cause, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), was identified in 1983.
The UN family has been in the vanguard of this progress. Since 1996, its efforts have been coordinated by UNAIDS — the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS is an innovative joint venture of the United Nations family, which brings together the efforts and resources of 11 UN system organizations to unite the world against AIDS. These are: UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, the ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank.
Ending AIDS by 2030 is an integral part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were unanimously adopted by United Nations Member States in 2015.
REPORTED IN 2020
75.7 million [55.9 million–100 million] people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic.
32.7 million [24.8 million–42.2 million] people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.
There are 4.2 million people aged 50 and older living with HIV today.
The funding gap for HIV responses is widening. Momentum established following global agreement on the Millennium Development Goals in 2000 has been lost in the Sustainable Development Goal era. Increases in resources for HIV responses in low- and middle-income countries halted in 2017, with funding decreasing by 7% between 2017 and 2019 (to US$ 18.6 billion in constant 2016 United States dollars).
The total funding available in 2019 for HIV in these countries amounted to about 70% of the 2020 target set by the United Nations General Assembly.
This day honours long-term survivors of the epidemic and raises awareness of their needs, issues and journeys.
While effective HIV treatments have decreased the likelihood of AIDS-defining illnesses among people aging with HIV, HIV-associated non-AIDS conditions are more common in individuals with long-standing HIV infection. These conditions include cardiovascular disease, lung disease, certain cancers, HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders (HAND), and liver disease (including hepatitis B and hepatitis C), among others.
In addition, HIV appears to increase the risk for several age-associated diseases, as well as to cause chronic inflammation throughout the body. Chronic inflammation is associated with a number of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, lymphoma, and type 2 diabetes. Researchers are working to better understand what causes chronic inflammation, even when people are being treated with ART for their HIV disease.
HIV and its treatment can also have profound effects on the brain. Although AIDS-related dementia, once relatively common among people with HIV, is now rare, researchers estimate that more than 50 percent of people with HIV have HAND, which may include deficits in attention, language, motor skills, memory, and other aspects of cognitive function that may significantly affect a person’s quality of life. People who have HAND may also experience depression or psychological distress. Researchers are studying how HIV and its treatment affect the brain, including the effects on older people living with HIV.