FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2022
As the International AIDS Conference Kicks Off in Montreal, New UNAIDS Global AIDS Update Shows Deadly Backsliding Away From Ending the Pandemic, With AIDS Deaths No Longer Declining
Perfect storm rising of pandemic competition, declining political will, and recrimination against marginalized groups while game-changing scientific tools sit on the shelf
New report should be an urgent alarm for President Biden to correct his administration’s failure to combat HIV and emerging global pandemics
As the International AIDS Conference (IAC) kicks-off in Montreal, a damning new report from UNAIDS lays bare the consequences of insufficient leadership in the AIDS response from President Biden and other wealthy country heads of state, including AIDS 2022 host-country Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Declines in new HIV infections have ground to a halt, with rising HIV incidence in Asia and the Pacific–where new infections had been falling for a decade. The pace of enrollment of adults and children on lifesaving HIV treatment is almost at a standstill. Game-changing new interventions are priced out of reach of communities in dire need by pharmaceutical companies, such as long acting injectable cabotegravir for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), currently sold by the ViiV in the U.S. at 23,000 per year.
A primary reason for this crisis is the $8 billion USD and growing funding gap, forewarning ongoing reversals of decades of hard-fought progress in saving lives from preventable AIDS deaths. This trend is already becoming evident: the UNAIDS report details shameful new data showing that – at a time when scientific advances mean HIV should not be a death sentence – AIDS deaths have stopped declining.
“After almost two years in office, President Biden should be ashamed of his administration’s record on HIV,” said Asia Russell, Health GAP Executive Director. “On his watch, there has been no reversal of under-resourcing of bilateral AIDS programs despite overwhelming evidence it is having devastating consequences for people living with HIV and people who need effective HIV prevention. There’s no excuse for the political and policy failures that are denying communities the right to survive and thrive. President Biden must correct course and ensure the U.S. provides its fair share of bilateral PEPFAR funding and leadership needed to turn these trends around and end the deadly backsliding described in this report.”
With replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria taking place just September 19-21 in New York, hosted by the Biden administration, the UNAIDS report shines a foreboding light on the $8 billion USD and growing annual global funding gap. To help close that gap, activists in Canada are demanding the Canadian government invest $1.2 billion in the Global Fund for the replenishment period. In the U.S., the budget reconciliation process is ongoing and Congress is failing to meet the moment with sufficient funding for HIV, COVID-19, and monkeypox to close resource gaps that will mean more sickness, more suffering, and more death.
Underfunding and pharmaceutical company greed mean that new scientific advances like game-changing injectable HIV prevention is being blocked from gay men, trans people, and young women in African countries and other countries where new infections are unabated.
The UNAIDS report also features powerful examples of community-led monitoring (CLM) that is driving progress in communities, including in Uganda and South Africa where Health GAP, working alongside powerful PLHIV- and key population-led civil society groups, has been involved in high-impact, community-led efforts to gather data, identify solutions, and hold duty bearers to account for improving health services, especially for people with HIV and key populations of criminalized and marginalized people most at risk of HIV. CLM has uncovered stockouts of antiretrovirals and HIV prevention commodities, long wait times, and poor staff treatment of PLHIV and key populations. It has also catalyzed solutions that have improved services, pointing to the potential for greater impact if the model is expanded to more locations.
Planning Note: Health GAP is attending in-person the International AIDS Conference, AIDS 2022, in Montreal and will be available for commentary and analysis throughout the conference. Please contact Jessica Bassett at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone or WhatsApp at +1 (929) 866-3929.