Leading HIV activists such as Elton John and Gareth Thomas have urged Boris Johnson to fight “a new AIDS emergency” as he prepares to chair the G7 Summit next month.
In an open letter, John and Thomas joined other signers, including Annie Lennox, Charlize Theron, and former Presidents Joyce Banda of Malawi and Festus Mogae of Botswana, in warning Johnson that “critical advances are in jeopardy” in regarding the progress of HIV and AIDS during the coronavirus pandemic.
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The letter read: “The COVID-19 crisis has shut down HIV prevention and treatment services in many countries, literally overnight.”
“It has taken millions of girls out of school, and fueled poverty, gender-based violence and human rights violations. All of these factors increase the risk of people acquiring HIV or developing AIDS. We have already seen a sharp increase in adolescent pregnancy rates, which we know will also mean an increase in HIV infections. “
The signatories noted that research showed that the provision of HIV-related services had been reduced by 41% in 502 health centers in Africa and Asia, and that the World Health Organization (WHO) had highlighted the interruption of HIV treatment. HIV around the world during the pandemic.
They continued: “As leaders and advocates of the global response to HIV, we now fear that the number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths will rise again. At its peak, the AIDS pandemic reduced life expectancy. in some countries in 20 years and wiped out a generation of people in their most productive age, claiming 35 million lives, leaving millions of children orphans and devastating national economies.Combined with the COVID-19 crisis, a resurgence of the The AIDS emergency could be catastrophic. These dangers are real, but they can be overcome through smart global action. “
The G7 meeting, which takes place June 11-13, “represents a vital opportunity to bring the world together to act together,” they added.
Activists called on Johnson and other world leaders to “make full use of” the G7 commitment to end HIV by 2030, and to reverse the “deeply disturbing” UNAIDS funding cuts announced by Johnson last month, insisting: “These cuts not only directly hamper the global fight against AIDS, putting 38 million people living with HIV at risk, they also damage the UK’s reputation. “
“We cannot let one pandemic crisis open up another,” they wrote.
“We must end COVID-19, and AIDS, everywhere, together … The eyes of the world, Prime Minister, are on the UK, and on you.”