UN: Global fight against AIDS is at ‘precarious point’

UN: Global fight against AIDS is at ‘precarious point’
Since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 77 million people have tested positive for HIV, and almost half of them have died of AIDS. (AFP)
Updated 18 July 2018

UN: Global fight against AIDS is at ‘precarious point’

UN: Global fight against AIDS is at ‘precarious point’
  • ‘There are miles to go in the journey to end the AIDS epidemic. Time is running out’
  • Since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 77 million people have become infected with HIV

LONDON: Complacency is starting to stall the fight against the global AIDS epidemic, with the pace of progress not matching what is needed, the United Nations warned on Wednesday.
The United Nations’ HIV/AIDS body UNAIDS said in an update report that the fight was at a “precarious point” and while deaths were falling and treatment rates rising, rates of new HIV infections threatened to derail efforts to defeat the disease.
“The world is slipping off track. The promises made to society’s most vulnerable individuals are not being kept,” the report said. “There are miles to go in the journey to end the AIDS epidemic. Time is running out.”
Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, noted in the report’s foreword that there had been great progress in reducing deaths from AIDS and in getting a record number of people worldwide into treatment with antiretroviral drugs.
The report said an estimated 21.7 million of the 37 million people who have the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS were on treatment in 2017, five and a half times more than a decade ago.
This rapid and sustained increase in people getting treatment helped drive a 34 percent drop in AIDS-related deaths from 2010 to 2017. AIDS deaths in 2017 were the lowest this century, at fewer than a million people, the report said.
But Sidibe also pointed to what he said were “crisis” situations in preventing the spread of HIV, and in securing sustained funding.
“The success in saving lives has not been matched with equal success in reducing new HIV infections,” he said. “New HIV infections are not falling fast enough. HIV prevention services are not being provided on an adequate scale ... and are not reaching the people who need them the most.”
Sidibe said a failure to halt new infections among children was a big worry.
“I am distressed by the fact that in 2017, 180,000 children became infected with HIV, far from the 2018 target of eliminating new HIV infections among children,” he wrote.
Data in the report showed that overall among adults and children worldwide, some 1.8 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2017.
Since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 77 million people have become infected with HIV. Almost half of them — 35.4 million — have died of AIDS.
The report said that at the end of 2017, $21.3 billion was available for the AIDS response in low- and middle-income countries. More than half of that came from domestic funding sources rather than international donors. UNAIDS estimates that $26.2 billion will be needed to fund the AIDS fight in 2020.
“There is a funding crisis,” Sidibe said. While global AIDS resources rose in 2017, there was still a 20 percent shortfall between what is needed and what is available.
Such a shortfall will be “catastrophic” for countries that rely on international assistance to fight AIDS, Sidibe said.


Startup of the Week: The Vegan Street: Helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle

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Updated 01 December 2020

Startup of the Week: The Vegan Street: Helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle

Startup of the Week: The Vegan Street: Helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Theirs is the first Saudi restaurant to be approved by BeVeg, the world’s leading vegan certification company, which has a single measure to standardize vegan claims worldwide

Vegan dining options in Saudi Arabia are in demand, with many restaurants and cafes catering for this diet and offering plant-based alternatives to animal products.
Vegans in Jeddah have been celebrating this month’s opening of The Vegan Street, which is located next to Jarir Bookstore on Sari Street.
It offers scrummy sweet and savory items such as cauliflower buffalo wings, mushroom pizza, a plant-based burger, raspberry biscuits and cinnamon rolls.
The Vegan Street story started in the middle of this year with three young Saudis who were interested in taking up a healthy and balanced lifestyle in terms of physical movement, such as yoga, as well as meditation and nutrition.
Theirs is the first Saudi restaurant to be approved by BeVeg, the world’s leading vegan certification company, which has a single measure to standardize vegan claims worldwide.  
The team behind the restaurant believe that humans are an integrated system of body, mind and soul.
“The restaurant provides options that address all senses, soulful food that fills the belly and heart too,” the owners told Arab News.
The vegan market is somewhat new in the Arab world, and the challenge facing the entrepreneur in this field is making high-quality products at a reasonable cost and at a price point that caters to most customer segments.
“The goal is to help people find options that meet their needs outside the home and in the midst of their busy lives,” the restaurant’s owners said.
The team started off with nine items on the menu and are now in the soft opening phase. They are looking to get closer to their customers in terms of awaiting their suggestions and taking every note, idea and evaluation received into account.
The inspiration for the restaurant is the people who seek to bring more well-being into their lives. “It is not only a place that serves delicious food, it’s more than that. It is built from street life and to it. A community seeking well-being.”
The demand for vegan options has been increasing recently in terms of balancing one’s health.
There is also the added benefit of achieving sustainability and preserving the planet and environment in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan and G20 projects for a more sustainable future, a healthy life and a planet full of kindness and compassion, they said.
“We always remember that people never forget how you made them feel,” the restaurant team said. “The street food concept is based on simplicity, ease of finding and reasonable pricing, with an unforgettable taste. The menu will be expanded based on requests and suggestions, so that this place is for everyone and this community exists for everyone who wants to belong to it.”