All children deserve an equal opportunity to grow up in a safe and loving environment. Statistics show that transgender teenagers are much more likely to attempt suicide than teenagers whose identities match what is written on their birth certificates. The movie captures the pivotal moment of self-recognition. #SeeMeAsIAm
It has been 40 years since the first reported cases of HIV and 25 years since the creation of UNAIDS. Take a look at the momentous moments of the past four decades. From HIV meaning a certain death to the spectacular progress made with treatment and prevention... It is time to act now and end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. It is possible.
On this Zero Discrimination Day join UNAIDS in raising awareness about the inequalities that prevent people from living a full and productive life and demanding that governments fulfil their commitments and obligations to end all forms of discrimination. Inequalities surrounding income, sex, age, health status, occupation, disability, sexual orientation, drug use, gender identity, race, class, ethnicity and religion persist around the world. We cannot achieve sustainable development and make the planet better for all if people are excluded from the chance of a better life.
UNAIDS reports that the Kyrgyzstan Constitutional Court excluded HIV from the list of diseases that prevent people from adopting children or becoming guardians or foster parents. The barrier to parenting for people living with HIV had been in effect for many years. The change—brought about by a joint effort of activists, lawyers and human rights defenders, but primarily by people who personally suffered from discrimination and fought for their rights—is a victory against stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV in Kyrgyzstan.
UNAIDS reports on the challenges faced by sex workers in Bangladesh and Myanmar as a result of the COVID-19 closure of brothels. Street-based sex work increases the risk of violence, condom-less sex and no pay or low pay. Sex workers are also experiencing increasing vulnerability to gender-based violence. Without a source of income, conflicts about finances arise resulting in abuse at the hands of spouses, partners and brothel owners. Other challenges include homelessness, stigma and discrimination from other forms of employment and restricted health services and screenings.
The COVID-19 pandemic and women living with HIV
Every year, on 1 December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. People around the world unite to show support for people living with and affected by HIV and to remember those who lost their lives to AIDS. In 2020, the world’s attention has focused on health and how pandemics affect lives and livelihoods. COVID-19 is showing once again how health is interlinked with other critical issues, such as reducing inequality, human rights, gender equality, social protection and economic growth. With this in mind, this year the theme of World AIDS Day is “Global solidarity, shared responsibility”.
HIV service providers in Jamaica have been challenged this year with responding both to new challenges caused by COVID-19 and long-standing service delivery stumbling blocks. CHARES had been used to writing three-month prescriptions for stable clients, but since COVID-19, state-run pharmacies have been dispensing only a one-month supply. The Comprehensive Health Centre serves a number of people living with HIV alongside those infected with other sexually transmitted infections. Here, too, multimonth dispensing has not been possible during COVID-19.
While recent data collection has shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on HIV testing services, the impact on HIV treatment is less than originally feared. In a study conducted by UNAIDS, World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund, only five out of 22 countries reported monthly declines in the number of people on treatment after April—these include Zimbabwe in June, Peru and Guyana in July, the Dominican Republic in April, and Sierra Leone in May through to July. The remaining 18 countries did not show a decline and some countries showed a steady increase (e.g. Kenya, Ukraine, Togo and Tajikistan).
Survivors of COVID-19 from 37 countries are among almost 1,000 people who have signed an open letter to pharmaceutical industry leaders calling for a ‘people's vaccine’ and treatments that are available to all – free from patents. The letter came on the eve of a high-level side event about the pandemic at the UN General Assembly in New York. The letter says: “Some of us have lost loved ones to this killer disease. Some of us have come close to death ourselves. Some of us are continuing to live in fear that contracting this disease would be fatal for us. We see no justification why your profit or monopolies should mean anyone else should go through this.”
Significant breaches of human rights and other life-threatening and discriminatory disruptions have made part of the COVID-19 responses worldwide. The UN Secretary General has requested all UN entities to support the efforts of the WHO in their own respective areas of expertise. So, to better inform the response going forwards, UNAIDS commissioned a report on how COVID-19 public health orders and restrictions on movement have impacted the response to HIV and human rights.
The COVID-19 Law Lab initiative gathers and shares legal documents from over 190 countries to help states establish and implement legal frameworks to manage the pandemic. The goal is to ensure that laws protect individuals and communities and that they adhere to international human rights standards. Well-designed laws help build strong health systems; evaluate and approve safe and effective drugs and vaccines; and create healthier and safer public spaces and workplaces. The new Lab is a joint project of UNDP, WHO, UNAIDS and partners.
Seventy-three countries warned that they are at risk of stock-outs of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-four countries reported having either a critically low stock of ARVs or disruptions in the supply of these life-saving medicines. This new WHO survey follows an exercise convened by WHO and UNAIDS which forecasted that a six-month disruption in access to ARVs could lead to a doubling in AIDS-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa alone.
Getting calls at all hours of the day is not unusual for Liu Jie, the Community Mobilization Officer in the UNAIDS Country Office in China. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, the whole office has been active in helping people living with HIV to continue to access treatment, especially in Hubei Province, where the pandemic was first reported. Recently, Ms Liu was surprised when she had a call from Poland. UNAIDS country offices and the Community Mobilization Team in Geneva, Switzerland came to the rescue.