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Millions at risk as COVID-19 and Ukraine war threaten HIV/AIDS gains

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The fight against HIV and AIDS risks being derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises, the United Nations warned on Wednesday, with progress in cutting case numbers being reversed in some countries and slowing overall.

An estimated 1.5 million people contracted HIV worldwide in 2021, said a Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) report, with the number of new cases dropping just 3.6% compared to the previous year – the slowest rate of decline since 2016.

Coronavirus shutdowns frustrated initiatives to fight the virus and other world events such as the war in Ukraine have diverted funds and attention elsewhere, it said. “The global AIDS response is in severe danger,” said executive director Winnie Byanyima in a statement marking the launch of the Global AIDS Update 2022.

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