WHO highlights global progress on reducing HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections

25 May 2021

Article: 55/2103

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a report highlighting achievements and gaps in the implementation of the global health sector strategies for HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from 2016 to 2021, and outlines key steps needed to eliminate these diseases as a public health threat by 2030.

The report contains new estimates for viral hepatitis and the four main preventable and curable STIs. Most targets had not been reached by 2020, even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. 

  • HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections all continue to be major public health threats and account for one million new STIs per day. This results in 2.3 million deaths and 1.2 million cancers per year. 
  • New data show that hepatitis B and C caused three million new infections and 1.1 million deaths in 2019. Only 10% of people who have chronic infection with hepatitis B virus were diagnosed, 22% of whom received treatment, while 21% of people with hepatitis C infection were diagnosed, 62% of whom received treatment. 
  • With 1.7 million people newly infected with HIV in 2019, HIV incidence fell to its lowest annual number since 1990. However, this remains far below the global target of fewer than 500,000 people newly infected by 2020. 
  • New data on STIs show 374 million new cases per year. Other than slow declines in congenital syphilis, the incidence of most other STIs is plateauing, despite ambitious targets.

Source: WHO, 21 May 2021