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The United Nations welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision to decriminalize same sex relations in Mauritius

04 October 2023

This will speed up progress to end the AIDS pandemic and save lives.

GENEVA, 4 October 2023—The United Nations in Mauritius—which includes UNAIDS, UNFPA, OHCHR, UNDP and WHO—welcome today’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Mauritius that a discriminatory law criminalizing consensual same sex relations is unconstitutional and will be immediately struck from the legal code. Previously, under Section 250 of the Mauritian Criminal Code (which dated back to 1898) anyone convicted could have faced up to five years in prison.

“The Supreme Court today overturned an obsolete colonial law and demonstrated its commitment to non-discrimination and leaving no-one behind,” said Lisa Singh, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Mauritius. “The UN in Mauritius and internationally welcomes the decision of Mauritius to join the growing list of African countries protecting the human rights of everyone, including LGBTQI+ people.”

The ruling noted that “Section 250 was not introduced in Mauritius to reflect any indigenous Mauritian values but was inherited as part of our colonial history from Britain. Its enactment was not the expression of domestic democratic will, but was a course imposed on Mauritius and other colonies by British rule.” It also noted that a growing number of countries have decriminalized consensual same sex sexual relations, including the United Kingdom which overturned its law in 1967. 

“Mauritius' decision to decriminalize homosexuality is an important step forward for public health and a step towards equal rights, respect and dignity for the LGBTQI community,” said Anne Githuku-Shongwe, Director of UNAIDS’ Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa. “UNAIDS applauds Mauritius for today’s decision which will mean that men who have sex with men will have much easier access to the health and social services they need without fear of arrest or criminalization. Work will need to continue to break down the barriers of stigma and discrimination towards the LGBTQI community, but today’s ruling is a positive step in the right direction. It will save lives.”

Mauritius becomes the latest in a growing list of countries to declare that laws which have criminalized LGBTQI people are unconstitutional. However, UNAIDS estimates that 66 countries still have laws which criminalize consensual same sex relations. In addition to contravening the human rights of LGBTQI people, these laws impede access to health and social services, including HIV services. Such laws fuel stigma and discrimination against LGBTQI people and put them under constant fear of being punished or detained.

The case was brought forward by Abdool Ridwan Firaas Ah Seek, President of Arc-en-Ciel, the largest and longest-standing organisation in Mauritius championing the human rights of LGBTQI people, and was supported by partners including the Human Dignity Trust.

Civil society organizations, especially community-led organizations, are at the forefront of a global wave of progress that advances access to health for all. UNAIDS urges all countries to decriminalise same sex sexual relations. Decriminalization saves and changes lives.

Maneesh Gobin, Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in Mauritius said, “In keeping with its internationally acclaimed respect for the rule of law, Mauritius will indeed report to United Nations Member States at the next cycle of the Universal Periodic Review.” The Universal Periodic Review is a unique mechanism of the Human Rights Council that calls for each UN Member State to undergo a peer review of its human rights records every 4.5 years.


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at unaids.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


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Voluntary medical male circumcision shown to be highly cost-effective, highlighting the need to intensify scale up and sustainability

27 September 2023

UNAIDS’ Global AIDS Update The Path that Ends AIDS underscores 2 main challenges faced by voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) programmes: diminished funding and low coverage among men in their twenties and older. Since VMMC was recommended by WHO and UNAIDS in 2007 as key to HIV prevention in high-prevalence settings, about 35 million men have accessed services across the 15 VMMC priority countries. While this shows good progress, the Global AIDS update highlights that VMMC coverage remains far from reaching the 90% global coverage target for impact in many subnational areas of priority countries. Additionally, funding has declined by almost half since 2020 from approximately US dollars 285 million to US dollars 147 million for the 15 countries funded by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). But questions have arisen about VMMC’s cost-effectiveness under growing coverage of other biomedical interventions, such as antiretroviral treatment.

“We need strong political leadership to scale up implementation of VMMC programmes; tackle the inequalities holding back progress; and ensure sufficient and sustainable funding” said Angeli Achrekar, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director of Programmes. “Countries that are putting people and communities first in their policies and programmes are already leading the world on the journey to ending AIDS by 2030.”

Voluntary medical male circumcision is a simple, safe procedure that has proven to reduce the risk of HIV transmission by up to 60% in heterosexual men. But is it cost effective? For how long must policy makers continue to promote VMMC among adolescent boys and adult men across VMMC priority countries? This is what a group of researchers investigated.

Now published in The Lancet Global Health and using 5 existing mathematical HIV models, the researchers aimed to assess whether providing VMMC for the next 5 years would continue to be a cost-effective use of HIV programme resources in sub-Saharan Africa. The models applied assumptions based on HIV epidemiology in VMMC priority countries focusing on Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The impact and cost-effectiveness were projected over 50 years to capture clients’ lifetime HIV exposure and infection.

Findings reveal that a continuation of VMMC was cost-effective even in regions with low HIV incidence; VMMC was cost-effective in 62% of settings with HIV incidence of less than 1 per 100 person-years in men aged 15–49 years, increasing to 95% with HIV incidence greater than 10 per 100 person-years They underscored VMMC’s importance in continuing to avert HIV infections and related healthcare costs over time.

While details of the results varied by country and model (see Box1), overall VMMC was shown to be highly cost-effective and even cost saving in nearly all countries and scenarios.

Box 1 Varying results across countries
  • South Africa: All models found continuation of VMMC to be cost saving.
  • Malawi: All models found continuation of VMMC to be cost-saving
  • Zimbabwe: Mixed results. Continuation of VMMC was cost-saving in one model but was not as cost-effective in the other model.
  • Across a range of country and regional scenarios for sub-Saharan Africa, cost-effectiveness of VMMC was dependent on HIV incidence. Even in setting scenarios with low HIV incidence, most epidemic scenarios suggested it would be cost-effective

The authors concluded that despite the scale-up of antiretroviral therapy and low HIV incidence in some settings, the continuation of VMMC for at least the next 5 years is cost-effective in almost all settings considered in this study.

“Clearly, intensified efforts and commitments are needed to scale up VMMC while at the same time sustaining these services to reach men and boys,'' said Dr Meg Doherty, Director of WHO’s Global HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programmes. “The new Global AIDS report shows a widening gap for men that is important to recognize and address efficiently and effectively for their own health and to reduce new infections.’’

These analyses support a call to action on intensified efforts to reach men and boys in general and for continued funding for VMMC programmes. The discussion on VMMC sustainability is crucial. UNAIDS and WHO are urging countries to intensify their efforts in scaling up VMMC to global coverage targets (90%), at the same time address programme sustainability.

In the 2025 HIV Prevention Roadmap, VMMC remains a core component of combination HIV prevention under the pillar of men and boys. It is not only cost-effective, but also, cost-saving in many settings. Accordingly, continued progress towards male circumcision coverage targets in all the VMMC priority countries must be accelerated

Virtual course on HIV, gender and human rights: empowering medical teachers in Guatemala

18 May 2023

The University of San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC) Faculty of Medical Sciences, in collaboration with UNAIDS, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), launched an online course titled "Conceptos clave sobre VIH, Género y Derechos Humanos" (Key Concepts on HIV, Gender, and Human Rights). The four-module course is designed to provide teaching staff with detailed knowledge about key concepts related to HIV, its treatment and prevention, and the national and international legal framework guiding the response to HIV, as well as the gender and human rights dimensions of the epidemic.

With an estimated three new HIV infections each day in Guatemala and only 73% of the estimated 31,000 people living with HIV receiving antiretroviral treatment and persisting high level of stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV, the course is a significant step towards addressing the country's HIV challenges. The course aims to provide teaching staff and students with the necessary resources to promote, protect, and fulfill the human rights of adults, adolescents, and children living with or at risk of acquiring HIV, in all their diversity.

The course consists of 140 hours of study, including 70 hours of theory and 70 hours of practice, and will be undertaken between May and August 2023. Course participants will join virtual classes and synchronous group workshops and will have to submit the required tasks according to a work schedule.

The course covers four modules: Module 1 - Update on HIV and AIDS; Module 2 - National and international legal framework for the response to HIV; Module 3 - Health sector Policy framework for HIV response; Module 4- Key concepts on gender and human Rights.

During the inauguration, Marie Engel, UNAIDS Country Director, expressed her hope that participants would enjoy taking the course as much as she and other partners had in developing it. She also emphasized that "the course will be enriched with participants' individual knowledge and experiences, their doubts and concerns. There is obviously a lot of knowledge and wisdom among course participants that the facilitators will strive to capture."

Dr. José María Gramajo, General Coordinator of the USAC Faculty of Medical Sciences' Area of Teachers and Postgraduate training, highlighted that "this refresher course will contribute to the professional development of faculty teachers, sharing with them the latest knowledge about innovations related to HIV prevention, detection, and care, and ensuring an in-depth understanding of cross-cutting issues relevant to HIV and other public health problems."

Teaching staff and students are catalysts with the power to change the national response to HIV. As stated by Dr. Mirna Herrarte, Coordinator of the national HIV, STI, and AIDS program, "I am glad to know that there are so many professionals who want to know more about HIV. In the country, HIV treatment schemes are constantly reviewed. As an anecdote, Guatemala had more than 200 antiretroviral schemes a year ago. Under my leadership, we have reduced those schemes by 75%."

Inequalities persist in the most basic health and HIV services, such as access to screening, treatment, and condoms. USAC's collaborative initiative is an important step towards ensuring that all sectors, including academia, are engaged in ending social, economic, and legal inequities. The University of San Carlos de Guatemala is the largest and oldest university in Guatemala, and the only national and public university in the Central American country. 


UNAIDS urges world to unite to end gender-based violence against women and girls

25 November 2022

GENEVA, 25 November 2022—On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, UNAIDS is calling on the world to unite to end gender-based violence in all its forms and to challenge the gender inequities driving the HIV pandemic.

“Violence against women and girls is our individual and collective shame—a gross violation of human rights happening on an epic scale,” said UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima. “This pandemic of violence continues to drive thousands of new HIV infections every week and is making the end of AIDS much harder to achieve. It is a systemic issue that must be addressed at every level of society.”

Last year, 4900 young women or adolescent girls aged 15—24 became infected with HIV every week. One in three women and adolescent girls around the world have suffered physical and/or sexual violence from their husbands, male partners or strangers. This violence often takes place in their homes and neighbourhoods, where they should be safest. And this staggering statistic doesn’t include the millions more women and girls facing other forms of gender-based violence and harmful practices such as child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation and sexual violence.

In countries with high HIV prevalence, intimate partner violence can increase the chances of women acquiring HIV by up to 50%. Violence or the fear of it blocks women’s access to services and their ability to negotiate condom use with perpetrators, disclose their HIV status or stay on HIV treatment. Keeping girls in school is one way to decrease their exposure to violence and reduces their risk of HIV infection by 50%.

The World Health Organization has named violence against women a global health problem of epidemic proportions. Yet, decades after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted on 10th December 1948 and The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) instituted in 1979—the world is still talking about eliminating violence against women.

Today marks the beginning of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence whose theme this year is UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls.


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at unaids.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


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United for ending cervical cancer, HIV and inequities for women and girls

17 November 2022

On this Day of Action, as we celebrate a two-year anniversary of the launch by the World Health Organization (WHO) of the Global Strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem, we are reminded that despite the availability of the knowledge, tools and technologies, cervical cancer still kills more than 342 000 women a year (in 2020) globally. Every two minutes one woman loses her life to cervical cancer - a disease that is preventable and curable.

The high burden of cervical cancer is driven by gender, social and economic inequalities and health disparities in access to HPV vaccines, screening, care and modern prevention and treatment technologies. Because of those inequalities, women and girls in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) remain most affected. Nine out of 10 women who die of cervical cancer reside in LMICs.  Cervical cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related death among women living in sub-Saharan Africa.

The WHO Global Strategy to eliminate cervical cancer launched by the WHO on 17 November, 2020 was supported among many by the UN partner organizations including IAEA, UNAIDS, UNFPA , UNICEF, and Unitaid. The UN Joint Action Group comprised of these six UN entities each bringing in its unique mandates and resources, is committed to supporting countries efforts in meeting by 2030 the global cervical cancer elimination targets – whereby 90% of girls are fully vaccinated against HPV by age 15, 70% of women are screened with a high-performance test between the ages of 35 to 45, and 90% of women identified as having cervical disease receive treatment. If these targets are met, 300 000 deaths from cervical cancer could be averted by 2030, 14 million by 2070, and over 62 million by 2120.

“In countries with high rates of HIV, over 50% of cervical cancer cases are reported among women living with HIV.  Women living with HIV are six times more likely to develop cervical cancer and to develop it at younger age than those without HIV. It is unacceptable to claim that we have saved a woman’s life by enabling access to antiretroviral therapy for HIV alone, if we then leave her to die from cervical cancer. Our joint focus is on breaking down silos, building bridges between HIV and cervical cancer programmes, and bringing the two communities together because we know that linkages save lives.” – Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS Executive Director 

“No woman should die of cervical cancer when we have a highly effective HPV vaccine and quality diagnostics. We need prevention and early detection - this is how we ensure that this disease is eliminated globally.  Governments and partners need to invest in accelerated access to resilient primary health care that delivers integrated care like routine immunization and sexual and reproductive health. And we must commit robust long-term human resources for adequate and accessible health care workers in communities and at facility level. Funding for health and health equity are prerequisites for cervical cancer elimination around the world.” - Dr Aboubacar Kampo, Director of Health Programme, UNICEF New York HQ

“We have the tools and technologies to end cervical cancer. Now it is a question of access. Unitaid stepped up the moment WHO issued its call to action, and within just a few years we have introduced effective technologies and developed screen-and-treat models that work in resource-limited settings. The last piece of the puzzle is scale up – we need to see a concerted global effort so every last woman can benefit from life-saving preventive care and we can end cervical cancer for generations to come.” – Dr Philippe Duneton, Executive Director, Unitaid

“Despite being one of the leading causes of death from cancer for women in low- and medium-income countries (LMICs), cervical cancer is also one of the most preventable and treatable cancer types. Nuclear applications such as diagnostic imaging can help detect the cancer at an early stage and increase survival rates. Radiotherapy can successfully treat women with cervical cancer, even in advanced cases. With our Rays of Hope initiative, we aim to increase access to these technologies worldwide and close the unacceptable gap of inequality.”- Najat Mokhtar, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications

“On this second anniversary of the Global Strategy for Cervical Cancer Elimination, the UN Joint Action Group (UNJAG)* celebrates the successes achieved. As the world population continues to grow, more girls and women will require life-saving vaccination, screening and treatment. We acknowledge the need for effective mobilization of resources and partners to achieve the 90-70-90 global elimination targets. Going forward we will continue to focus our attention and joint efforts on ensuring full prevention, high quality life-saving services and equity in access to modern technologies for women and girls across the world.” – Petra ten Hoope-Bender, UNJAG Chair, Technical Adviser Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, UNFPA.


Infographic: HIV and cervical cancer

Global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem

Delays in global, affordable access to long-acting, injectable HIV medicines would cost lives, say AIDS campaigners

16 November 2022

GENEVA – Reflecting on 100 days since the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal, at which the World Health Organisation issued landmark guidance on how long-acting injectable anti-retroviral medicines can help prevent new HIV infections, and ViiV Healthcare committed to enabling access, AIDS campaigners are urging ViiV Healthcare to take vital next steps to enable timely rollout of game-changing,  life-saving, long-acting injectable HIV medicine to millions of people. 

At AIDS2022, the International AIDS Conference in Montreal, 29th July - 2nd August, ViiV Healthcare the manufacturer of cabotegravir (CAB-LA) committed to share technology, and ensure an affordable price, for the long-acting, injectable HIV medicine. The announcement generated international excitement as CAB-LA has been shown to be a safe and effective prevention tool. Reflecting on 100 days since then, global health leaders say there is an urgent need to for ViiV to take crucial next steps. 

ViiV committed at the Conference in Montreal to lower the price for CAB-LA in a subset of low- and middle-income countries. But ViiV has not yet published this price. Advocates say the annual per person price needs to be equivalent to the price of oral PrEP,  tens of dollars not hundreds of dollars. Multiple governments and financing agencies have indicated their interest in purchasing CAB-LA for PrEP if the medicine is offered at an affordable price point. Advocates are calling on ViiV to transparently and rapidly share details of their planned pricing strategy. 

“ViiV Healthcare needs to publicly announce an interim pricing strategy, which prioritises affordability so countries and procurement bodies can plan and purchase at scale,” said Dr Yogan Pillay, South Africa country director at The Clinton Health Access Initiative. “Governments and other procurers will only purchase long-acting injectable HIV medicines at scale if the drugs are affordable and if there’s a clear timeline as to when the drugs will be available.” 

While ViiV’s commitment to facilitate the generic production of CAB-LA via an agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool for use in 90 countries is helpful, HIV experts are calling on ViiV to allow an expansion of the number of countries eligible in order to accelerate progress in supplying the product to those in need. Although the current set of 90 countries includes both low- and middle-income countries, it excludes dozens of other middle-income countries, amongst which are countries with high rates of HIV infection. Expanding the list of countries would help incentivise generic production by expanding the potential market size. 

“ViiV Healthcare should allow generic production and supply in all low- and middle-income countries,” said Lilian Mworeko, Executive Director, International Community of Women Living with HIV East Africa. “Anything short of this would mean that millions of people who need these products would not be able to access them for years to come. Every day of delay would represent failure to prevent the spread of HIV and takes us further away from ending AIDS by 2030.” 

“At the AIDS Conference in Montreal, ViiV took important first steps to enable this powerful new prevention tool to reach many in need.  It is now time for ViiV to take additional courageous steps. These include ensuring registration with medicines agencies in all the countries with the highest rates of HIV, announcing the low price and expanding the set of countries allowed in the generic market. Bold actions by ViiV in this moment could help save millions of lives,” said Matthew Kavanagh, Deputy Executive Director, a.i. at UNAIDS. 


Long acting ARVs need to be made available!

Guidelines on long-acting injectable cabotegravir for HIV prevention

On eve of the World Health Summit, UNAIDS urges countries to end the inequalities driving the HIV pandemic and other health threats

14 October 2022

BERLIN/GENEVA, 14 October 2022—As global health leaders arrive in Berlin for the World Health Summit, UNAIDS is calling on countries to challenge the inequalities and injustices that are obstructing efforts to end the HIV pandemic and weakening responses to other health threats. 

UNAIDS recent report In Danger, revealed a faltering HIV response in many countries, with entire groups of people being left highly vulnerable to HIV infection and unable to access HIV treatment, prevention and care services. Data included in the report showed that HIV infections are increasing in 38 countries worldwide and that the pandemic continues to have the worst impact on adolescent girls and young women and key populations such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people and people who use drugs.

In 2021, there were 1.5 million new HIV infections worldwide—more than 1 million above the 2020 target. Globally, 250 000 adolescent girls and young women aged 15—24 years old became infected with HIV in 2021, while four out of five new infections among this group occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. Key populations and their sexual partners account for 70% of new HIV infections globally. Meanwhile, almost 10 million of the 38.4 million people living with HIV globally are still waiting for treatment to keep them alive and well and stop them transmitting the virus.

“It’s still possible for countries to end the AIDS pandemic by 2030 but it will require additional investment and a relentless focus on challenging gender-based violence, gender inequalities and other social injustices that make people vulnerable to infection and keep them away from HIV prevention, treatment and care services,” said UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, who is in Berlin for the summit. “Laws that criminalize and marginalize vulnerable groups of people are denying the right to health to entire groups of people and holding the HIV response back.”      

At the summit, UNAIDS will also be underlining the need for high-income countries to continue their support for the global HIV response, especially as the economic crisis bites. Many low- and middle-income countries have cut budgets for health, education and other essential services in the last two years as they deal with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and struggle to meet crippling debt repayments to richer nations.

“It would be tragic, misguided and unfair to expect the world’s poorest to pay for the current global economic crisis for which they bear no responsibility,” said Ms Byanyima. “In fact, additional investments in essential services such as health and education are vital now to help low- and middle-income countries weather the storm and emerge as fairer societies contributing to global health security.”

Achieving the goals of the UNAIDS Global AIDS Strategy 2021—2026 requires that annual investments in HIV services in low- and middle-income countries rise to a peak of $29 billion by 2025—there is a current shortfall of around $8 billion. UNAIDS has commended Germany’s pledge of €1.3 billion for the 7th Replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria—a 30% increase on its 2019 pledge. Germany has also contributed €6 million to UNAIDS for 2022, making it the organization’s fifth biggest donor.

During the World Health Summit, Ms Byanyima will participate in an event hosted by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health: The Global Effort to End HIV and AIDS: Addressing Inequalities in the AIDS Response to Make the Money Work. The session will take place on Sunday 16 October between 14:00—15:30 CET and will be livestreamed here.

On Tuesday 18 October between 19:00—21:00 CET Ms Byanyima will be in a livestreamed conversation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation: Lives Before Profits: A conversation with Winnie Byanyima on Global Health Justice.

During her visit to Berlin, Ms Byanyima will also meet with communities and activists involved in the HIV response in Germany including representatives from Aktionsbündnis gegen AIDS, Deutsche AIDS Hilfe and AIDS Action Europe. Discussions will include legal barriers to providing HIV services for all in Germany, ongoing support to Ukrainian refugees and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at unaids.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


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New global alliance launched to end AIDS in children by 2030

01 August 2022

Globally, only half (52%) of children living with HIV are on life-saving treatment. UNAIDS, UNICEF, and WHO have brought together a new alliance to fix one of the most glaring disparities in the AIDS response.

MONTREAL/GENEVA/NEW YORK, 1 August 2022 – Globally, only half (52%) of children living with HIV are on life-saving treatment, far behind adults where three quarters (76%) are receiving antiretrovirals, according to the data that has just been released in the UNAIDS Global AIDS Update 2022. Concerned by the stalling of progress for children, and the widening gap between children and adults, UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO and partners have brought together a global alliance to ensure that no child living with HIV is denied treatment by the end of the decade and to prevent new infant HIV infections.

The new Global Alliance for Ending AIDS in Children by 2030 was announced by leading figures at the International AIDS Conference taking place in Montreal, Canada.

In addition to the United Nations agencies, the alliance includes civil society movements, including the Global Network of People living with HIV, national governments in the most affected countries, and international partners, including PEPFAR and the Global Fund. Twelve countries have joined the alliance in the first phase: Angola, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Consultations by the alliance have identified four pillars for collective action:

  1. Closing the treatment gap for pregnant and breastfeeding adolescent girls and women living with HIV and optimizing continuity of treatment;
  2. Preventing and detecting new HIV infections among pregnant and breastfeeding adolescent girls and women;
  3. Accessible testing, optimized treatment, and comprehensive care for infants, children, and adolescents exposed to and living with HIV;
  4. Addressing rights, gender equality, and the social and structural barriers that hinder access to services. 

Addressing the International AIDS Conference, Limpho Nteko from Lesotho shared how she had discovered she was HIV positive at age 21 while pregnant with her first child. This led her on a journey where she now works for the pioneering women-led mothers2mothers programme. Enabling community leadership, she highlighted, is key to an effective response.

“We must all sprint together to end AIDS in children by 2030,” said Ms. Nteko. “To succeed, we need a healthy, informed generation of young people who feel free to talk about HIV, and to get the services and support they need to protect themselves and their children from HIV. mothers2mothers has achieved virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV for our enrolled clients for eight consecutive years—showing what is possible when we let women and communities create solutions tailored to their realities.” 

The alliance will run for the next eight years until 2030, aiming to fix one of the most glaring disparities in the AIDS response. Alliance members are united in the assessment that the challenge is surmountable through partnership.

“The wide gap in treatment coverage between children and adults is an outrage,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima. “Through this alliance, we will channel that outrage into action. By bringing together new improved medicines, new political commitment, and the determined activism of communities, we can be the generation who end AIDS in children. We can win this – but we can only win together.”

"Despite progress to reduce vertical transmission, increase testing and treatment, and expand access to information, children around the world are still far less likely than adults to have access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment services," said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. "The launch of the Global Alliance to End AIDS in Children is an important step forward – and UNICEF is committed to working alongside all of our partners to achieve an AIDS-free future."

“No child should be born with or grow up with HIV, and no child with HIV should go without treatment,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Gheberyesus, WHO Director-General. “The fact that only half of children with HIV receive antiretrovirals is a scandal, and a stain on our collective conscience. The Global Alliance to End AIDS in Children is an opportunity to renew our commitment to children and their families to unite, to speak and to act with purpose and in solidarity with all mothers, children and adolescents.”

Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health of Nigeria, pledged to “change the lives of children left behind” by putting in place the systems needed to ensure that health services meet the needs of children living with HIV.

Nigeria, Dr Ehanire announced, will host the alliance’s political launch in Africa at a Ministerial meeting in October 2022.



The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at unaids.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


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The Global Alliance to end AIDS in children

Watch: Global Alliance launch 2022: ending AIDS in children

It is time to end AIDS in children once and for all: Global Alliance launched

30 July 2022

MONTREAL, 30 July 2022—More than two decades ago at the 13th International AIDS Conference (IAS) in Durban, Nkosi Johnson from South Africa stood up as the first child to speak publicly about HIV.

”Hello, my name is Nkosi Johnson, I am 11 years old and I have full-blown AIDS,” he said in front of a packed auditorium.

“I get very sad when I think of all the other children and babies that are sick with AIDS. ​I just wish that the government could start giving HIV treatment to pregnant HIV+ mothers to help stop the virus being passed on to their babies.”

Since Nkosi’s call for help in 2000, remarkable progress has been made. In a decade, coverage of HIV treatment to prevent vertical transmission for pregnant women living with HIV has increased to 85% from 45% and there has been a 53% reduction in new child HIV infections.

Last year, Botswana became the first high-burden country to be certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) for achieving an important milestone on the path to eliminating vertical transmission of HIV from mother to child.

But it’s still not enough.

Global targets towards reaching an AIDS-free generation have been missed year after year. In 2020, there were 1.7 million children living with HIV globally, almost half (46%) of whom were not receiving life-saving HIV treatment. In the same year there were 150 000 new HIV infections among children.

On the sidelines of this year’s IAS conference in Montreal, UNAIDS, networks of people living with HIV, UNICEF and WHO, together with technical partners, PEPFAR and The Global Fund are launching a new Global Alliance to End AIDS in children by 2030. The Alliance will be co-created with the broad participation of stakeholders, national governments, implementing agencies, regional and country-based organizations, faith-based and community partners including women, children and youth living with HIV. The aim is to measure and coordinate progress towards the bold targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and mobilize leadership, funding and action to end AIDS in children by 2030 by tracking work globally, regionally, nationally and at community levels.

“It is unacceptable that children are lagging far behind adults in accessing HIV treatment and that progress on eliminating vertical transmission has stalled in recent years,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

“The committee of co-sponsoring organizations of UNAIDS has approved the Global Alliance to End AIDS in children by 2030, co-led by UNAIDS, WHO and UNICEF as a Global Strategic Initiative. We are united in our commitment to reach this goal,” she added.

Most of these new infections could have been prevented if adolescent girls and women had universal access to HIV testing, prevention and treatment services and the support they need to stay in prevention care or on HIV treatment throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. In addition, stigma, discrimination, punitive laws and policies, violence and entrenched societal and gender inequalities hinder access to care for women, adolescents and children.

Renewed political commitment and leadership is needed to eliminate vertical transmission and end AIDS in children once and for all. The launch of a new Global AIDS Strategy in 2021 and the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS provide an opportunity to redirect global attention and redouble efforts to end AIDS in children

The Global Alliance to end AIDS in children

Watch: Global Alliance launch 2022: ending AIDS in children