UN-Habitat and UNAIDS present new report at Africities_1Johannesburg, 30 November 2015—Cities have a primary role to play to Fast-Track the end of the AIDS epidemic by 2030 says report by UN-Habitat and UNAIDS.

Ending the AIDS epidemic: the advantage of cities was presented at the Africities Summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Summit, held every three years, marks a critical time as cities enter the new era of the Sustainable Development Goals.

On the eve of World AIDS Day, it was announced that more than 150 cities have signed the Paris Declaration to commit to Fast-Track the end of the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The report outlines that cities and urban areas are particularly affected by HIV, with the 200 cities most affected by the epidemic estimated to account for more than a quarter of all people living with HIV around the world.

“The Fast-Track Cities approach will help urban leaders and communities to capture this opportunity,” said Alioune Badiane, UN-Habitat’s Director of Programmes of UN-Habitat.  “A Fast-Track AIDS response means quickening the pace to prevent HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths. It means being focused and working with fragile communities, using methods that are known to work.”

The report highlights that city leaders have a unique opportunity to seize the dynamism, innovation and transformative force of the AIDS response to not only expand HIV services in cities but also address other urban challenges, including social exclusion, inequality and extreme poverty.

“Fast-Track Cities means accelerated action—I can think of no better place than the Africities Summit to encourage leaders to commit to ending AIDS by 2030,” said Annemarie Hou, UNAIDS’ Director of Communications and Global Advocacy. “We are counting on cities to take the lead the way in innovating new health delivery systems to reach people who might otherwise be left behind.”

In almost half (94) of the 200 cities most affected, HIV is transmitted mainly through unprotected heterosexual sex. In the remaining 106 cities, sex work, unprotected sex between men and injecting drug use are the main drivers of the epidemics. In the Asia–Pacific region, about 25% of all people living with HIV are estimated to reside in 31 major cities, while in western and central Europe, an estimated 60% of all people living with HIV reside in just 20 cities.

According to the new report, data from 30 countries that have conducted nationally representative household-based population surveys show that HIV prevalence among people 15–49 years old living in urban areas is higher than among those living in rural areas in most countries.