UNOG Bi-weekly press briefing: World AIDS Day - UNAIDS
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Edited News | UNOG

UNOG Bi-weekly press briefing: World AIDS Day - UNAIDS

New HIV infections are in decline worldwide and more people living with HIV gain access to treatment, according to a new report released today by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

As of mid-2019, nearly two out of three people living with HIV were accessing treatment (an estimated 24.5 million out of 37.9 million people). Fewer people are dying of AIDS-related diseases as a consequence, but there are important gaps remaining in order to meet global health goals, UNAIDS warned.

Speaking to the media in Geneva today (26 Nov) ahead of World Aids Day, Peter Ghys, Director Strategic Information and Evaluation for UNAIDS said that “while 24.5 is an important achievement to celebrate, it is also clear -- and again highlighted in the report -- that it leaves like an important gap to the goal that was set for the year 2020, which is of 30 million people being on anti-retroviral treatments.”

There are still thousands of children falling between the cracks, for example, despite the fact that new HIV infections among children have declined by 41 percent since 2010 -- and nearly 82 percent of pregnant women living with HIV are on antiretroviral therapy. Half of children born with HIV who are not diagnosed early will die before their second birthday, according to UNAIDS.

“A large gap exists in the treatment for children”, Ghys said, adding that the new report shows that “some of that gap is actually in older children because often we think that programs need to find new-borns and give treatment. That is true, of course, but there is also a large number of older children -- we estimate more than 250,000 children between 10 and 14 years old -- that actually do not benefit from anti-retroviral treatment.”

Because of late diagnosis or lack of treatment, last year 100,000 children under the age of 14 years died from an AIDS-related illness and 160,000 became newly infected with HIV.

Gay men, transgender people, sex workers and prisoners – sometimes referred to as key populations in the context of the AIDS pandemic -- account for at least 75 percent of new HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa and are less likely to be on treatment than others. The continued spread of HIV infections in these populations is also a matter of concern to UNAIDS, as more than one third do not know their HIV status.

“Knowledge about HIV and its transmission is important and needs to be communicated through an appropriate sexuality education,” Peter Ghys said.

Under the title ‘Power to the people’, this latest UNAIDS report makes the case that wherever people and communities living with and affected by HIV are engaged in decision-making, new infections decline and more people living with HIV gain access to treatment.

“We cite an example of a study in Eswatini, where cash transfers were studied, and so the specific study in Eswatini actually shows an important reduction in HIV incidents if indeed cash transfers are given to girls that are then able to stay in school for longer than otherwise would be the case,” Ghys said.

Outside of eastern and southern Africa, the region most affected by HIV, the annual number of new HIV infections rose by 29 percent in eastern Europe and central Asia, by 10 percent in the Middle East and North Africa and by 7 percent in Latin America.  

1. Wide shot, Palais des Nations exterior
2. Wide shot, journalists
3. Med shot, journalists
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Peter Ghys, Director of Strategic Information and Evaluation, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS):
“A large gap exists in the treatment for children, we had already highlighted that earlier. And in this report, we also show that some of that gap is actually in older children because often we think that programs need to find new-borns and give treatment, that is true, of course. But there is also a large number of older children. We estimate more than 250,000 children between ten and 14-years-old, that actually do not benefit from anti-retroviral treatment.”
5. Close up, hands
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Peter Ghys, Director of Strategic Information and Evaluation, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS):
“Knowledge about HIV and its transmission is important and needs to be communicated to appropriate sexuality education.”
6. Med shot, journalists
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Peter Ghys, Director of Strategic Information and Evaluation, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS):
“While 24.5 is like an important achievement to celebrate, it is also clear and again highlighted in the report, that it leaves like an important gap to the goal that was set out for the year 2020 which is of 30 million people being on anti-retroviral treatments.”
8. Med shot, cameramen
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Peter Ghys, Director of Strategic Information and Evaluation, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS):
“In relation to power to thrive we cite an example of a study in Eswatini where cash transfers were studies and so the specific study in Eswatini actually shows an important reduction in HIV incidents if indeed cash transfers are given to girls that are then able to stay in school for longer than otherwise would be the case.”
10. Close up, journalists
11. Close up, journalist typing
12. Wide shot, press briefing room  

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