World Aids Day: Why the Middle East lags behind in fighting HIV - BBC
Dec 01, 2022 1 min, 42 secs
The number of new HIV cases worldwide has decreased significantly over the last decade - but in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), however, it is a different story.

Although the Mena region has the lowest HIV burden in the world, the number of new infections increased by 33% in that same period.

While the increase could be seen as the result of wider HIV testing in the Mena region, experts suggest that the issue is more complicated.

In the region - and across the rest of the world - people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender people and sex workers are considered the most at-risk populations.

While the Middle East and North Africa is one of only three regions where the number of new HIV cases is increasing, it also has the lowest rate of HIV treatment coverage in the world.

According to the latest report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids), only 50% of people with HIV in the Mena region were accessing treatment.

"Intersecting inequalities are inhibiting and preventing people from accessing the best of testing treatment and also prevention.".

In sub-Saharan African countries where same-sex sexual relations are criminalised - as they are in many countries in the Mena region - gay men are five times more likely to contract HIV than other countries in the same region which do not criminalise same-sex relations.

UNAids is working together with the World Health Organization on a campaign to help 5,000 people in the Mena region to confidentially test for the virus and get access to treatment in December 2022?

"HIV in Mena is like a kaleidoscope, you can look in it - as many governments did - and see that there is relatively less cases than other parts of the world," Ms El Feki says?

"But we encourage governments to turn that kaleidoscope and see that, because we have relatively less cases of HIV, we could be amongst the first regions in the world to end it."?

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