UNAID's New Strategy Aims to END AIDS by 2030

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday March 26, 2021

The UNAIDS Board's new global strategy aims to end AIDS by 2030.

The End Inequalities, End AIDS, Global AIDS Strategy 2021-2026 plan lays out new targets and policies that, if reached by 2025, will help put an end to the disease. The UNAIDS Board adopted the strategy during a special session held on March 24 and 25.

"This year makes 40 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported and 25 years since the establishment of UNAIDS," said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. "We are at a critical moment in our historic effort to end AIDS. Like HIV before it, COVID-19 has shown that inequality kills. COVID-19 has widened existing inequalities that block progress to ending AIDS. That's why I'm proud that our new strategy places tackling inequalities at its heart. We must seize this moment to ensure health equality for all in order to beat COVID-19 and end AIDS."

In a statement, the Board describes this new strategy as "[putting] people at the center" with priorities that include maximizing equitable and equal access to comprehensive HIV services, "break[ing] down legal and societal barriers to achieving" the strategy's outcomes, and fully resourcing systems for health.

"The World Health Organization is pleased to endorse the global AIDS strategy for the next five years, with its ambitious vision for ending gender inequalities and realizing human rights, including the right to health, calling upon all partners and stakeholders in the HIV response in every country to transform unequal gender norms and end stigma and discrimination," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization and chair of the UNAIDS Committee of Co-sponsoring Organizations. "For this strategy to be fully realized, WHO will continue to support all countries to strengthen health systems and especially primary health care, on the road towards universal health coverage."

The strategy aims to decrease the number of HIV-positive diagnoses from 1.7 million in 2019 to less than 370,000 by 2025 and decrease the number of AIDS-related deaths from 690,000 in 2019 to less than 250,000 by 2025. This goal would also reduce HIV infections among children from 150,000 in 2019 to less than 22,000 in 2025.

To help achieve that goal, the strategy calls on countries to fully deploy HIV prevention measures for adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa, sex workers, people who inject drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people and people in prison settings.

"I applaud the joint efforts in the global AIDS response. At this critical point in efforts to end AIDS as a global health threat by 2030, I call on all countries to support this strategy to get the global AIDS response back on track," said Kalumbi Shangula, Minister of Health of Namibia and Chair of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.