The number of new HIV infections is increasing in some parts of the world (icon image)
Photo: Cindy Van Deventer/EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm
New HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are increasing in some parts of the world.
Inequalities are the main reason for the lack of progress, explains the United Nations Program to Fight AIDS (UNAIDS) in an analysis for World AIDS Day on December 1: Among other things, it is about violence against women, about discrimination against women homosexuals and the poorer supply of children with life-saving drugs.
Given the current trend, the agreed global goals could not be achieved, UNAIDS said.
By 2030, the aim was for 95 percent of infected people to know their HIV status.
Of these, 95 percent should receive therapy, and 95 percent of those should achieve a drop in viral load below undetectable levels while on antiviral therapy—making transmission of the virus much less likely.
Children with insufficient access to medicines
According to the analysis, in certain regions where HIV is widespread, women are up to 50 percent more likely to become infected with HIV, for example due to violence by intimate partners.
Between 2015 and 2021, in 33 countries worldwide, only 41 percent of all married women aged 15 to 24 were able to make their own decisions about their sexual health.
Infections among women in sub-Saharan Africa accounted for around 63 percent of all new HIV infections in the region in 2021, it said.
Girls and young women aged 15 to 24 were three times more likely to become infected with HIV than boys and young men in this age group.
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UNAIDS also warned that children had too little access to life-saving medicines.
While more than three-quarters of HIV-infected adults worldwide receive antiretroviral therapy, only just over half of all HIV-infected children are treated accordingly.
Consequently, the percentage of AIDS-related deaths in children is comparatively high.
Another hurdle to ending AIDS is discrimination, the UN program said.
There is no significant decline in new infections among homosexual men, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to UNAIDS, almost 70 countries around the world still criminalize same-sex sexual relations.
Sex workers in countries where their work is criminalized are seven times more likely to contract HIV than in countries where sex work is legal or partially legal because of discrimination.
Financial constraints make it difficult to address inequalities, says UNAIDS.
Last year, low- and middle-income countries lacked $8 billion (€7.7 billion) for HIV programs.
Around 650,000 people died of AIDS that year and around 1.5 million people became infected with HIV.
Number of new HIV infections in Germany is stagnating
In Germany, the assumed number of new HIV infections is stagnating.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) estimates for 2021 that as many people will be newly infected with the virus as in the previous year - around 1800 each. "The number of new infections is as low as it was two decades ago," said the RKI a report published last Thursday.
The development is reassessed every year, since HIV is often only diagnosed years after infection.
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With the current calculations, according to the RKI, it cannot be ruled out that the results appear better than they actually are.
This is because fewer people may have had themselves tested during the pandemic.
"Regardless of this: These case numbers are still too high, further efforts are required, above all to improve the target group-specific test offers and access to therapy and prophylaxis," the RKI quoted its President Lothar Wieler as saying in the message.
According to the paper, 96 percent of people diagnosed with HIV received antiviral therapy last year.
"The treatment is successful in almost all of those treated, so that they are no longer infectious." The virus is primarily transmitted by people who do not yet know about their HIV infection, it said.
The RKI estimates their number at around 8,600 in this country.
After peak values in the 1980s with sometimes more than 5,000 new infections per year, the numbers had fallen significantly by the end of the 1990s.
However, there was an increase again until around 2007, after which the values stagnated for some time at around 2500. The RKI now speaks of a decline since 2016.