PLANO, Texas — UNAIDS and the African Union recently recommitted to a partnership that seeks to eliminate AIDS as a danger to public health in the next decade. The partnership, reinforced through a Memorandum of Understanding to commit to the Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030, commits nations in the African Union to continue to address the impacts of HIV/AIDS in the continent. This comes after a recent UNAIDS report indicated that an additional $29 billion a year in funding through 2025 would be needed to set the organization back on the path toward ending AIDS as a global health threat.
The Status of HIV/AIDS in Africa
While recent studies have shown an improvement in certain areas related to HIV/AIDS in Africa, many statistics remain alarming. For example, while eastern and southern Africa saw a 28% drop in new HIV infections since 2010, these changes have not been experienced equally in the populace. Young women in the region between 15 and 24 years old are almost twice as likely as men to become infected with HIV. In 2018, in western and central Africa, young men accounted for 31,000 fewer HIV infections compared to young women.
Disparities also exist in key statistics across different regions of Africa. The 90-90-90 goals, a three-part UNAIDS target for 90% of people to reach key HIV hallmarks by 2020, have only been achieved in certain areas of the continent.
The goals stated that by the year 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will be aware of their status, 90% of people with a diagnosed HIV infection will have access to sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people on antiretroviral therapy will experience viral suppression. These goals were reached in seven eastern and southern African countries with three other nations in the area close to hitting them as well. Conversely, in 2019, 42% of HIV-infected individuals in western and central Africa could not access antiretroviral therapy.
Regardless of the progress made in the area, eastern and southern Africa remained more impacted by HIV than any other region in the world in 2019. According to recent data, more than half the world’s HIV-affected population live in eastern and southern Africa.
Fighting HIV/AIDS in Africa
UNAIDS and the African Union look to improve these statistics through the newly signed Memorandum of Understanding related to the Catalytic Framework to End AIDS, TB and Eliminate Malaria in Africa by 2030. The plan seeks to strategically use investments in the fight against AIDS to continue improving the continent’s response to this global health issue.
Specifically, the framework seeks to improve the health systems in Africa through three key investment strategies. For starters, the framework prioritizes the strengthening of health systems through changes like additional data quality monitoring and workforce training measures. Next, the framework addresses “the generation and use of evidence for policy and program interventions” through strategies like regular household surveys to collect data on diseases like HIV and tuberculosis. Finally, the framework sets advocacy and capacity-building goals to help develop new healthcare guidelines and tools.
The plan even includes a revised goal for 2030 to reduce the number of AIDS-related deaths by 150,000 per year compared to 2015 statistics. This coincides with an increase to a 95-95-95 treatment strategy. The plan also targets discrimination in HIV treatment and HIV rights in African countries. These rights generally include the right to an individual’s own personal health and the ability to access HIV treatment and care. It can also include destigmatizing HIV in the healthcare system and the workplace.
On a global scale, UNAIDS’ recent report indicates that the aforementioned $29 billion increase in yearly global funding for HIV/AIDS would reportedly decrease the net number of new HIV diagnoses by more than 1.3 million cases by 2025. On top of that, more than 440,000 fewer people would die from AIDS-related illnesses by 2025.
The Importance of the Renewed Commitment
Bearing this in mind, the potential importance of the global funding along with the new Memorandum of Understanding between UNAIDS and the African Union cannot be underestimated in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa and around the world. With this renewed commitment, UNAIDS and the African Union will continue to fight these deadly diseases and help save countless lives throughout Africa.
– Brett Grega