Recent statistics released in a new report by UNAIDS show that the number of new HIV/AIDS cases have been decreasing steadily. This new data shows that for every 10 percent increase in treatment coverage, there is a one percent decline in new infections among those living with HIV. However, the report also noted that far more international effort was needed because this current pace is insufficient to completely end the AIDS epidemic.
In 2013, 2.1 million new HIV/AIDS cases were recorded, down from 3.4 million new cases in 2001. 2013 also saw an additional 2.3 million people gain access to the life-saving antiretroviral therapy (ART), which is a drug that substantially suppresses many of the symptoms of AIDS and increases life spans. This means that a grand total of 13 million people have previously had or currently have access to ART. AIDS-related deaths have fallen by one-fifth in the past three years.
The most headline-grabbing piece from the report came from Michael Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, who said, “If we accelerate all HIV scale-up by 2020, we will be on track to end the epidemic by 2030.”
However it is important to know that while there has been significant improvement, considerable work still needs to be done. Sidibé went on to say that if we don’t continue to scale up efforts, then we would “[add] a decade, if not more” to the 2030 goal.
Only 15 countries account for more than 75 percent of the 2.1 million new HIV infections in 2013. In Sub-Saharan Africa the countries of Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda account for 48 percent of all new HIV infections in the region. Fewer than four in 10 people currently with HIV lack the ART necessary to survive. HIV prevalence is estimated to be 12 times higher in sex workers, 19 times higher among gay men, 28 times higher in drug injectors and up to 49 times higher among transgender women. Sub-Saharan adolescent girls and young women account for one in four new HIV infections.
While there are a tremendous amount of fascinating statistics on the matter, it’s important to not get lost in them. This new report from UNAIDS shows that progress is being made, but an even stronger effort is needed in order to end the AIDS epidemic in a timely fashion and save millions more lives.
– Andre Gobbo