Over the past decade, there have been remarkable advances in the HIV prevention, treatment and epidemic control tools used by the global community working to address HIV. Investments in scientific discovery and implementation research have furthered our understanding of the factors driving the epidemic, as well as the biology of viral transmission. Prevention, diagnostic and treatment strategies have improved immensely, as have antiretroviral drugs.

Still, after 40 years, HIV remains a major global health crisis: In 2020, there were 680,000 AIDS-related deaths and 1.5 million people newly infected with HIV, far off the UNAIDS targets for epidemic control. While some countries were able to leverage recent advancements and are at or near epidemic control (when the total number of new HIV infections falls below the total number of deaths from all causes among people with HIV), other countries remain far from that goal.

Since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted HIV services globally, threatening to reverse the gains of the recent past. The global community working to address HIV was forced to adapt, and the resulting innovations yielded substantial benefits for people living with — or who were at risk of contracting — HIV.

The innovations that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic improved our available toolkit. The experience should serve as a reminder that we need differentiated service delivery models — not just a one-size-fits-all approach — to successfully control the HIV epidemic.

Read the full article about HIV response by Hally Mahler and Timothy Mastro at Degrees.