By ICIR Nigeria
Ever thought young people are carelessly engaging in premarital sex and getting away with it? They aren’t, after all.
According to Peter Thomson, president of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), 1,800 young people a day are being newly infected with the HIV virus, with young women at particular risk.
Thomson was speaking at UNGA’s annual review of the secretary-general’s report.
“While major advancements have been made, the scale of shortcomings remain deeply concerning,” he said.
“Some 1,800 young people a day are being newly infected with the virus, with young women at particular risk. A blunt assessment would say that to date our achievements have been mixed.”
He said that ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 requires a comprehensive and inclusive approach that also targets education, information and services to people living with HIV and to those at risk.
“Adequate funding remains critical to meet the objectives,” he said. “There is also the need to close the $7 billion funding gap for the global AIDS response.”
Also speaking, Amina Mohammed, deputy UN secretary-general, said more than 36.7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.
Warning that the pandemic is still far from over, she called for a reinvigorated global response to HIV/AIDS.
“I am happy to report that, today, more babies than ever are being born free from HIV. Now we need to do a better job of reaching young women and adolescent girls,” she said.
“This is particularly true for sub-Saharan Africa, where adolescent girls account for three out of four new HIV infections among 15 to 19 year olds.
“Achieving our aims on AIDS is interlinked and embedded within the broader 2030 Agenda. Both are grounded in equity, human rights and a promise to leave no one behind.”
In 2016, the UN political declaration on ending AIDS set the world on a fast track to stamp out the epidemic by 2030.
In the first phase, countries pledged to reduce new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths to fewer than 500,000 by 2020 and to eliminate HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
However, according to the report, with less than four years to go, progress on reducing new HIV infections among adults has stalled.
The report added that financing for the global response had dried up and more importantly, women and girls continue to bear the brunt of the AIDS epidemic.
“While more than 18 million are now on life-saving treatment, this is just half of those who need it, and there is no decline in the number of new infections each year,” Mohammed said.
“People living with HIV who are on treatment can now expect the same life expectancy as someone who is not infected.”
Mohammed noted that key populations, including sex workers, people who inject drugs, transgender people and homosexuals, remain at much higher risk of HIV infection.
More than 10 million additional people living with HIV must access treatment by 2020, while most of them are unaware of their HIV status.