World AIDS Day | Briefing by Director of UNAIDS NY Office – Press Conference

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United Nations published this video item, entitled “World AIDS Day | Briefing by Director of UNAIDS NY Office – Press Conference” – below is their description.

Dr. César Núñez, Director of the UNAIDS New York Office, briefing to reporters on World AIDS Day, taking place on December 1st with the theme: END INEQUALITIES. END AIDS. END PANDEMICS.

Ahead of World AIDS Day, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) issued a “stark warning” that AIDS remains a pandemic, and that “bold actions against inequalities” are needed “to end AIDS, stop COVID-19 and prepare for future pandemics.”

Addressing reporters in New York today (29 Nov) the Director of UNAIDS’s New York Office, Dr César Núñez, this year marks 40 years since AIDS was first reported and 25 years since the establishment of UNAIDS by the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

He said the UNAIDS report released today showed that some 28.2 million people globally haveaccess to antiretroviral therapy as of the end of June this year, representing 73 percent of all those who may need it.

Núñez said, at the beginning of the COVID-19, “we were under the impression that people living with HIV were not going to be affected differently by COVID. That has been proven wrong. They experience more severe outcome outcomes and have higher comorbidities from COVID-19 than people not living with HIV. In mid-2021, most people with HIV did not have access to COVID-19 vaccines, which is also a challenge.”

The Head of the UNAIDS Office in New York said studies from England and South Africa found that the risk of dying from COVID-19 among people living with HIV was double that of the general population. He said, while Sub-Saharan Africa is home to two-thirds of people living with HIV, less than three percent of people in Africa had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by July 2021.

Núñez added that COVID-19 lockdowns and other restrictions disrupted HIV testing, and in many countries led to a steep drop in diagnoses and referrals to HIV treatment.

The UNAIDS official listed the measures needed to tackle inequalities as presented in the report. These include community-led and people-centred infrastructure, equitable access to medicines, vaccines and health technologies, human rights to build trust and tackle pandemics, elevating essential workers and providing them with the resources and tools they need, and people-centred data systems that highlight inequalities.

Núñez said, “We have reached a fork in the road that shows the choice for leaders to make is between bold action and half measures. The data is clear, it has been too gradual; that is the unaffordable choice. Every minute that passes we’re losing a precious life to AIDS, and we don’t have that time.”

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