COVID-19 has seen fewer people diagnosed with HIV, UNAIDS new report states

Thirty-eight million people are living with HIV, with more than 12 million awaiting life-saving treatment.

FILE: A nurse conducts an HIV test at a voluntary testing centre. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - UNAIDS has launched its World Aids Day report, which focuses on new HIV targets for 2025.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen fewer people diagnosed with HIV and treatment and prevention services have been hampered.

Thirty-eight million people are living with HIV, with more than 12 million awaiting life-saving treatment.

The World Aids Day report shows South Africa was one of the countries where there's been a decline in HIV testing and access to treatment since the COVID-19 pandemic.

It states testing and treatment services for the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission have experienced similar disruptions.

Lesotho and Uganda are among the countries that quickly rebounded from these testing disruptions, while the impact has been more sustained in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa.

UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima said: “The scale of HIV treatment was 50% lower in the first half of 2020 than in the first half of 2019 because of COVID. So the COVID disruptions cannot be taken lightly.”

She said the new targets were holistic and focus on a high coverage of HIV and sexual and reproductive health services together with the removal of bad laws and policies while at the same time reducing stigma and discrimination.

“COVID is blowing us further away off track. How do we get back? UNAIDS is proposing new targets, we want to look forward, to be bold and to reset those targets.”

Last year, 1.7 million people were infected with HIV and 690,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses.

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