More ‘political commitment’ needed urgently for HIV prevention: UNAIDS chief
Around 1.8 million people became newly infected with HIV and around 50 countries experienced a rise in new HIV infections during last year, according to Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, who was speaking at the ongoing International AIDS Conference in the Netherlands.
“Health is a human rights imperative and we are deeply concerned about the lack of political commitment and the failure to invest in proven HIV programmes, particularly for young people and key populations,” said the UNAIDS chief, in a press release. “If countries think they can treat their way out of their epidemics, they are dangerously mistaken,” he added.
According to a new UNAIDS report, 47 per cent of new HIV infections globally affect key vulnerable populations, such as sex workers, and people who inject drugs. Although a combination of HIV prevention approaches could mitigate this — such as harm reduction, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), better social care and condoms — many countries are unwilling to invest in approaches which they view as culturally or religiously inappropriate.
In some Southern African countries for example, where HIV prevalence can be as high as 70 per cent among sex workers, it is reported that condoms are often confiscated by the police, said the agency.