This year marks 40 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported. Access to treatment has expanded immensely since them, but progress has slowed considerably in the past few years.
According to UNAIDS, “the world is off track from delivering on the shared commitment to end AIDS by 2030 - not because of a lack of knowledge or tools to beat AIDS, but because of structural inequalities that obstruct proven solutions to HIV prevention and treatment”
Several key populations—including sex workers, people who inject drugs, prisoners, trans people and gay men and other men who have sex with men—are at heightened risk of HIV and other life-threatening infections due to their marginalized status in society, the discrimination and violence they experience, and the laws that seek to criminalise their actions.
A new analysis done by UNAIDS shows that the data reported by many countries appear to underestimate the size of key populations. As a result, their HIV response may have profound gaps in services for the populations in greatest need of them.
Countries that criminalize key populations saw less progress towards HIV testing and treatment targets over the last five years.
On the other hand, countries with progressive laws and policies, strong community engagement and robust and inclusive health systems, have had the best outcomes in the AIDS response.
Even greater gains were achieved in countries where laws have advanced human rights protections, particularly those that protected rights to non-discrimination and responded to gender-based violence
When human rights are respected, people can access the health services they need.
“Ending inequalities to end AIDS is a political choice", said UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima. "The choice for leaders to make is between bold action and half-measures.”