On World AIDS Day, a warning sign that goes beyond a single epidemic
This piece orginally appeared in Alliance Magazine.
Today is World AIDS Day, which is often seen as an opportunity to celebrate the progress made against HIV and AIDS. This year, we must also take stock of where the greatest challenges lie, not only for the epidemic itself, but also for the many issues—human rights, gender rights, LGBTQI rights, reproductive justice, racial justice—with which it intersects. There are warning signs that our progress is in jeopardy. In many ways, we may be going backward.
Nearly 40 million people still live with HIV globally, more than half of whom are women and girls. Young people, ages 15-24, make up more than a quarter of new HIV infections, in large part due to a lack of access to HIV and sexual and reproductive health services. The situation is most acute in sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to two-thirds of people living with HIV in the world. Key populations—including transgender people, gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers and their sexual partners, and people who use drugs—are disproportionately impacted. These demographics account for 70 percent of HIV infections globally and 94 percent of HIV infections outside of sub-Saharan Africa.
But no country or community is immune to the spread of HIV. As if we needed a reminder, COVID-19 made clear that an epidemic anywhere is an epidemic everywhere.
Despite this enormous challenge, HIV funding—both governmental and non-governmental grantmaking—is alarmingly off track.