UNAIDS: Efforts to End HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa
UNAIDS is the international movement working to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide by 2030, which aligns with the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. Its fight against HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa has seen encouraging results.

In 2016, UNAIDS created the 90-90-90 targets for 2020, aiming to have 90 percent of all people with HIV know they are HIV positive, 90 percent of those who know their status receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) consistently and 90 percent of those receiving treatment show viral suppression (having no symptoms of HIV/AIDS).

HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa a Main Target of UNAIDS

East and Southern Africa is the region of the world most impacted by HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS estimates that 19.4 million people in that region have HIV/AIDS. However, since the creation of the 90-90-90 targets and the subsequent implementation of more rigorous prevention and treatment programs, tremendous progress has been made towards curbing the transmission of and deaths from HIV/AIDS.

These statistics show how East and Southern Africa are faring in each of the 90-90-90 categories:

  1. Knowing Status
    According to a UNAIDS Special Analysis from 2017, in 2016, 14.7 million of an estimated 19.4 million people with HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa knew their status. That is 76 percent, up from 72 percent the previous year.
  2. Receiving Antiretroviral Therapy
    Seven million people with HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa are on ART. This means that 60 percent of all people with HIV (up from 53 percent in 2015)—or 79 percent of those who know their status—are receiving treatment.
  3. Showing Viral Suppression
    Seven million people on ART in this region show suppressed viral loads. Thus, 50 percent of people with HIV in East and Southern Africa (up from 45 percent in 2015)—which is equivalent to 83 percent of those receiving ART—show viral suppression.

Both the infection rate and death rate from HIV/AIDS are improving. Infection rates peaked between 1995 and 1998, when UNAIDS estimates that 1.7 million people in East and Southern Africa were newly infected each year. The decline began in 1990 and has continued. In 2016, UNAIDS estimated that 790,000 people contracted HIV/AIDS, down from 850,000 a year before.

Deaths from HIV/AIDS in East and Southern Africa peaked about a decade later than infection rates did, with approximately one million people dying annually between 2004 and 2006. In 2010, 720,000 people died from HIV/AIDS. By 2016, that number had dropped by nearly 50 percent to 420,000 deaths. As UNAIDS notes, it is extraordinary to see a death rate cut nearly in half in just six years.

Much of this recent success must be attributed to the work of UNAIDS, which is working to make testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS available to everyone. Its programs specifically target young women, pregnant mothers-to-be and males who, because of the stigma around HIV/AIDS, are often the least likely to receive proper treatment.

Multi-Pronged Efforts Reach Most Vulnerable Populations

Efforts aimed at young females including getting comprehensive sex education into all primary and secondary schools in East and Southern Africa, encouraging girls to stay in school (and away from dangerous sex work), and providing easily accessible female and reproductive healthcare.

UNAIDS is also helping to equip maternity clinics with what they need to ensure that all pregnant women will be aware of their HIV status and are able to get the care they need to have a healthy pregnancy.

Along with working to end the stigma around HIV/AIDS and providing accessible places to receive testing and treatment, UNAIDS aims to distribute 30 male condoms to every man living in the region each year. It also offers voluntary male circumcision programs, which can help prevent female to male HIV transmission.

East and Southern Africa may be the region most affected by HIV/AIDS, but UNAIDS is doing tremendous work towards achieving its 90-90-90 goals by 2020 and its goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030. Continuing to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS and making testing and treatment increasingly available will ensure that these successes continue.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

What Has the U.N. Done?The United Nations has been working towards world peace, security and good relations in an attempt to solve economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems globally since 1945. Since then, it has aided the world countless times and accomplished immense goals. Specifically, what has the U.N. done? These programs illustrate what the United Nations has achieved and its top accomplishments.


UNICEF is an agency that was created by the United Nations that stands for the United Nations International Children’s Fund. UNICEF protects the rights of children throughout the world and works towards increasing their standard of living. UNICEF works in 190 countries.


The United Nations has been highly successful in the global battle against HIV/AIDS. They raise awareness, funds and create programs for prevention and treatment. The most recent UNAIDS update states that it plans to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

World Food Programme

The United Nations’ World Food Programme is one of the most successful agencies created by the U.N. thus far. The U.N. World Food Programme feeds 104 million people across 80 countries every year, focusing on war zones, natural disaster areas, health emergencies and poor countries.


Another success of the United Nations is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, founded in 1949. The leaders of the UNHCR work with refugees and ensure that governments take responsibility in regards to refugees. UNHCR has received two Nobel Peace Prizes for work done in Europe and worldwide assistance to refugees.

Peacekeeping Missions

The United Nations has 16 peacekeeping missions underway across the world. The purpose is to encourage peaceful relations between countries. The peacekeeping missions have saved many lives and are one of the most successful projects the U.N. has undertaken throughout history.

Among the accomplishments of the United Nations, it is clear how important they are and what a large impact they have made throughout the world. In addition to these five accomplishments are countless others that are just as crucial to the groundbreaking aid they have provided. The question “What has the U.N. done?” starts with these five important things and continues with many other forms of aid.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

With a new campaign called My Health, My Right, UNAIDS will celebrate World AIDS Day on December 1, 2017. The campaign aims to bring awareness to the universal right to health, and also to shed light on the hardships people face globally in obtaining these rights.

My Health, My Right is meant to remind people that a human’s right to health is not only about accessing the necessary services and medicines, but also about quality living and working conditions that are sanitary and safe with access to basic needs. When these rights are not being met, preventative measures against disease decrease and illnesses increase, including HIV. This campaign allows for open conversation to begin regarding thoughts and concerns about rights to health, the importance of health equality and justice for people worldwide.

The campaign will occur mostly on twitter, with downloadable posters available to hang throughout communities and informational brochures equipped with messages about the rights to proper health care. The right to health for all people is crucial in the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, as one of the goals includes ending the AIDS epidemic by the year 2030.

As of August 2017, 36.7 million people are living with HIV/AIDS throughout the world. 30 percent of these people don’t know the status of their disease. The majority of those infected with AIDS live in low- and middle-income countries; 25.5 million of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa. Although there has been significant progress in ending the AIDS epidemic, experts say it is not being done fast enough to meet the global targets.

World AIDS Day aims to pay respects to those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. The day was originally founded in 1988, as the first-ever global health day. A day to recognize the virus is extremely important for the eradication of the disease, as many of those infected do not know how to protect themselves and the others around them. It also helps demolish the discrimination and stigma associated with people living with the condition. AIDS has not disappeared, and there is a crucial need for funds, resources, increased awareness and improved education regarding the disease.

– Chloe Turner

Photo: Flickr

The Joint Programme Model was created by the U.N. to help in the fight towards ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by the year 2030. To meet this goal, known as the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” it has been noted by the Global Review Panel that the program is in critical need for reform.

The Global Review Panel recently issued a report which identifies key changes that must be made within the Joint Programme Model to help combat the spread of HIV/AIDS around the world. Particularly, it focuses on ways to effectively assist persons who are already infected.

It is the panel’s belief that the creation of the Joint Programme Model has thus far been one of the most instrumental and practical ways to try and eliminate the disease. However, a few suggestions within the report include targeting ways to reduce HIV-related stigmas, reducing the number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDs to fewer than 500,000 and reducing infections caused by HIV to fewer than 500,000.

The report further elaborates on more detailed improvements that are critically necessary for the program’s overall success. Such improvements include making fast-track countries a priority in the allocation of financial resources, as well as maintaining a focus on the mobilization and allocation of funds. By doing so, governmental leaders can ensure that the program remains adequately financed for global ventures.

Additionally, a major concern among members of the panel rests on the need to hold individuals such as cosponsors and the Secretariat accountable for their actions with respect to the overall 2030 plan. Panel members further believe that a transparent public reporting system should be set in motion that “shows the impact of results for people living with and affected by HIV and captures the entirety of Joint Programme financing and performance.”

Awa Coll-Seck, co-chair of the review panel, has expressed her opinion in that all individuals and organizations involved in the 2030 plan to end HIV/AIDs should work together as a sort of think tank to efficiently reach resolutions in the fight towards ending the disease on a global level.

Lael Pierce

Photo: Flickr

 Global Poverty
Most people are aware of global poverty, but oftentimes, the facts don’t sink in until people see the numbers. Here are 15 facts about global poverty.

1. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that from 2014 to 2016, one in nine people suffered from chronic undernourishment. Almost all of them live in developing nations.

2. Between the years 1992 and 2014, the number of undernourished people in developing nations was reduced to 43 percent. However, there is still a long way to go. The percentage of the world’s population that still suffers from hunger is 13.5 percent.

3. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the least amount of progress made in reducing hunger, with one in four people deemed chronically undernourished.

4. Although many Asian nations have made improvements in their poverty levels, little progress to decrease the number of chronically undernourished people has been made.

5. Undernutrition during a child’s developing years causes problems such as stunted height. In 2012, Professor Daniel Schwekendiek from Sungkyunkwan University studied the heights of children in North and South Korea. He found that poor nutrition causes North Korean children to be one to three inches shorter than South Korean children.

6. Another side effect of malnutrition is iron deficiency. Half of all pregnant women in developing countries are estimated to be anemic. About 40 percent of preschool-age children are also estimated to have anemia, which causes problems such as weakness and insomnia.

7. In the United States, a case of upset stomach and diarrhea might cause a sick day. For developing countries, a diarrheal disease could be a death sentence for a child. In 2015, diarrhea accounted for nine percent of deaths among children age five and under. This made it the leading cause of death for children in that age group.

8. Between 2000 and 2015, the number of children under five dying from pneumonia decreased by 47 percent. However, the numbers are not decreasing fast enough. In 2015, the cause of one in six childhood deaths was pneumonia.

9. The Center for Disease Control and Management estimates that 780 million people have no access to clean drinking water. This is about the same number of people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition globally. People living in rural areas are more likely to not have access to an improved water source.

10. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates that one in five primary schools girls do not have access to education. Experts say that one reason for this is because menstruating girls often do not have access to toilets in schools. Girls are also more likely to be in charge of fetching water for the family. This makes it difficult for them to stay in school.

11. Contaminated drinking water can also lead to diseases such as Guinea Worm Disease (GWD). This is a painful parasitic disease that causes worms to emerge from the body through blisters and sores.

12. Unclean water isn’t only unsafe to drink, it can also be unsafe to wash in. Contaminated water sources used in washing can lead to problems such as trachoma, the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness. Nearly 41 million people suffer from this condition.

13. According to UNAIDS, there were approximately 37 million people living with HIV/AIDS in 2015. The number of children under the age of 15 living with the disease in 2015 was 1.8 million.

14. In 2015, 150,000 children became infected with HIV. The majority of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa and became infected by their mothers through pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

15. However, people are making progress in addressing the AIDS epidemic. In 2016, there were an estimated 18.2 million HIV-infected people on antiretroviral therapy. UNAIDS hopes to increase that number to 30 million by 2020.

Most people have some general knowledge of the effects of global poverty, but the numbers make the reality more palpable. These facts demonstrate the great amount of progress made and the work that still needs to be done. The Borgen Project is helping decrease global poverty number by educating, advocating and mobilizing people. However, until poverty is completely eliminated, there is still plenty of work to be done.

Mary Grace Costa

Photo: Flickr

The statistics are frightening — an estimated 19 million people across the globe are infected with HIV and do not know it. The lack of knowledge comes with an unnecessarily early death sentence because, when untreated, HIV invariably develops into fatal AIDS. However, those devastating numbers stand to drop considering a recent agreement between representatives of multinational AIDS programs and health organizations. During United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) talks in New York on  Feb. 9- 10, 2017, leaders of these programs agreed to work together to create a global coalition of community health workers to tackle the HIV epidemic.

Community Health Workers – What Are They?

According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), a community health worker is a trusted public health worker who operates on the front lines and/or has a close understanding of the community served. This relationship allows the worker to facilitate access to services, improve the quality of services and increase health awareness within the narrow scope of their community. Additionally, community health workers can provide outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy. These attributes are especially valuable when battling the global HIV epidemic.

Because formal education, like an M.D or nursing certification, is not a requirement to become a community health worker, their services are extremely cost-effective for people in impoverished areas. Currently, over six million community health workers are on the front lines in global communities. Unfortunately, many community health workers go unpaid; therefore, there can be mixed results when their services are paired with other health systems.

Helping Community Health Workers Help Others

Leadership in the UNAIDS talks recognized these issues and made plans to maximize the potential of community health workers. The participants determined that at least two million additional community health workers need to be deployed to reach the desired 90–90–90 targets. The 90-90-90 target means that 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of people who know their status are accessing treatment and 90 percent of people on treatment are displaying suppressed viral loads.

The participants also strongly supported the establishment of a new international coalition of community health workers, as early as the summer of 2017. During talks, participants indicated that the formation of a coalition would foster the formation of national associations of community health workers. Ideally, these associations will unify community health workers, advocate for them and increase their overall impact on the HIV epidemic.

Kenly Sikwese, Co-Chair of the African Community Advisory Board, summed up the importance of community health workers in the battle against the HIV epidemic: “When HIV exploded in our countries, it was the community that provided care and treatment […] community health workers need to be integrated as an ongoing part of the health system.”

Gisele Dunn

Photo: Flickr