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WHO calls on the global community to achieve “Equality Now” in the HIV response

On December 1, the date of World AIDS Day 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) calls on leaders and citizens around the world to recognize and boldly combat the inequalities that hinder the progress towards ending AIDS by 2030.

WHO joins partners and communities around the world in commemorating World AIDS Day 2022 under the theme “Equality Now!” – a message that highlights the need to ensure that essential HIV services reach those who are most at risk and most in need, particularly children with HIV, key populations affected by HIV and their couples.

“With global solidarity and bold leadership, we can ensure that everyone gets the care they need,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “World AIDS Day offers an opportunity to reaffirm and refocus our common commitment to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.”

HIV remains a major public health problem affecting millions of people around the world, but our response risks falling short.

Of the 38 million people with HIV, 5.9 million who know they are carriers do not receive treatment.

Another 4 million people with HIV have not yet been diagnosed.

While 76% of adults overall were receiving antiretroviral treatment that allowed them to lead normal and healthy lives, only 52% (global average) of children with HIV had access to such treatment in 2021.

70% of new HIV infections occur among people who are marginalized and whose behavior is often criminalized.

Although transmission has generally decreased in Africa, there has not been a notable decline among men who have sex with men – a key population group – in the last 10 years.

Overlapping epidemics of monkeypox and HIV infection

The data available to the WHO show that among people with confirmed monkeypox, a high number (52%) were people with HIV. Global data reported to WHO suggest that people with monkeypox and untreated HIV infection appear to be at risk of contracting a more severe form of the disease than people without HIV.

The current response to monkeypox shows that transmission can be rapid through sexual networks and within marginalized population groups, but also that it can be prevented with community-led responses and open attitudes to combat stigma. Health and well-being can also be improved and lives saved.

Serving key population groups in the response to HIV

On this World AIDS Day, WHO recommends a refocus on the implementation of the WHO 2022 guidance to address the HIV-related and other related health needs of key populations and children .

“People must not be denied HIV services, no matter who they are or where they live, if we are to achieve health for all,” said Dr. Meg Doherty, Director of HIV, Hepatitis and STI programs at the WHO. “To end AIDS, we need to prevent new infections among children, remedy their lack of access to treatment, and dismantle structural obstacles and stigma and discrimination towards key populations in all countries as soon as possible. ».

With just eight years to go until 2030, the goal of ending AIDS as a global health threat, WHO calls for global solidarity and bold leadership from all sectors to get back on track for put an end to AIDS and, with it, put an end to new syndemics, such as the recent global outbreak of monkeypox.

Source: World Health Organization

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New EU Migration Plan, Same Rights Violations

The European Commission’s action plan on the Central Mediterranean, proposed on November 21, 2022 and endorsed by home affairs ministers a few days later, is another missed opportunity for the European Union to reset its myopic and harmful policies on this crucial migration route. The plan recycles the same repressive and ineffective focus on stopping people from entering Europe by increasing funding and support to often abusive governments in North Africa.

The plan doubles down on strengthening Libya’s capacity to police its borders. Support for the Libyan Coast Guard already facilitates interceptions of migrants at sea and their return to Libya where they face arbitrary detention and horrific abuses. The EU cynically justifies this support as part of the fight against smugglers and traffickers, despite knowing that the United Nations has pointed to evidence of collusion between the Libyan Coast Guard and traffickers and smugglers “attempting to profit from this system.”

The new plan ignores recommendations to re-introduce state-led, proactive search and rescue operations under the auspices of the EU and to establish a clear mechanism for predictable disembarkation in a place of safety of people rescued in the Central Mediterranean. The plan also fails to incorporate a process for relocation of people to other EU countries, to share responsibility and alleviate the pressure on the country of disembarkation.

Instead of dealing with EU member states’ refusals to undertake and coordinate the rescue of migrant boats in distress and to allocate safe places of safety to ships operated by nongovernmental rescue groups, the European Commission continues to constrain these organizations’ life-saving work at sea, referring to an alleged “need for a specific framework and guidelines for vessels.”

As rescue groups state repeatedly, international maritime law already establishes a legal framework for rescue at sea, which civilian rescue ships already respect. It is high time EU governments do the same.

Instead of recycling old approaches that failed to protect people and instead perpetuated suffering, the European Commission should scrap policies enabling human rights abuses and focus on strengthening the EU asylum and reception system, expanding the solidarity mechanism for allocating state responsibility, and establishing meaningful safe and legal pathways for migration.

Source: Human Rights Watch