In a new report published to mark World AIDS Day on December 1, the UN warns that "dangerous inequalities are undermining the AIDS response and jeopardising the health security of everyone".
HIV/AIDS is still spreading in sub-Saharan Africa –– fuelled by widespread inequalities, a top UN official has lamented on a day the global body officially marks to highlight the scourge of the disease across the world.
“An inequality that really breaks my heart is the inequality against children living with HIV,” UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said at the launch of a new report in Tanzania.
“With the science we have today, no baby should be born with HIV and no child who is HIV positive should be without treatment. We have everything,” she said.
“Here in Tanzania, 87 percent of adults living with HIV are on treatment. This is remarkable … but only 60 percent of children who are living with HIV are on treatment. There is a gap,” said Byanyima.
Citing UNAIDS data, she said children account for only 4 percent of the total HIV/AIDS patients worldwide.
“But when we count those who are dying … children are 15 percent of the total number,” she said.
“It tells you we are leaving children behind, and we must do something. We can’t allow this avoidable injustice to continue.”
According to UNAIDS research, teenage girls and young women throughout sub-Saharan Africa are three times more likely to contract HIV than men in the same age groups.
“The world will not be able to defeat AIDS while reinforcing patriarchy. We need to address the intersecting inequalities women face,” said Byanyima, calling for greater support for women’s rights organisations.