UNAIDS report shows significant declines in new global HIV infections

November 20, 2012

A new World AIDS Day report: Results, by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), shows a more than 50% drop in new HIV infections across 25 countries since 2001. More than half of these countries are in Africa, the region most affected by AIDS. HIV infections among newborn children have also declined by 50%, meaning that prevention of mother-to-child-transmission is working, and eliminating new infections among children is within sights. In addition, the number of people with access to antiretroviral therapy increased by 63% in the last two years. And AIDS-related deaths fell by more than 25% between 2005 and 2011 globally.

Whilst it was noted that significant improvements have been made in curbing new HIV infections among children and scaling-up treatment access, injecting drug users , men who have sex with men and sex workers are failing to access HIV treatment and prevention services globally.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the worst-affected region, accounting for 69% of all people living with HIV globally, nevertheless progress in this region has been significant. For example, since 2001 rates of new HIV infections have declined by 73% in Malawi, 71% in Botswana, 68% in Namibia.

Declining new HIV infections in children and young people

The area where perhaps most progress is being made is in reducing new HIV infections in children. Half of the global reductions in new HIV infections in the last two years have been among newborn children.

In most parts of the world, we furthermore have seen a reduction in new HIV infections among young people aged 15-25. Between 2001 and 2011, prevalence of HIV fell by more than 35% among young people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today, however, young people still account for 40% of all new adult HIV infections and some five million young people are living with HIV.

More investments

The report shows that countries are increasing investments in the AIDS response despite a difficult economic climate. In 2011, for the first time ever, domestic investments from low- and middle-income countries surpassed global giving for HIV. However, international assistance, which has been stable in the past few years, remains a critical lifeline for many countries. In 26 of 33 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, donor support accounts for more than half of HIV investments. The United States accounts for 48% of all international assistance for HIV and together with the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria provide the lion’s share of investments in HIV treatment.

The global gap in resources needed annually by 2015 is now at 30%. In 2011, US$ 16.8 billion was available and the need for 2015 is between US$ 22-24 billion.

1000 days to go

As we enter the final years of working towards the Millennium Development Goals and the United Nations Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, much remains to be done to reach the targets. Despite the encouraging progress in stopping new HIV infections, the total number of new HIV infections remains high. An estimated 6.8 million people are eligible for treatment and do not have access. In addition, there is an urgent need to improve HIV treatment retention rates; reduce the cost of second- and third-line treatment; and explore new ways of expanding and sustaining access to treatment, including domestic production of medicines and innovative financing.

Concluding remark

The report outlines that a significant additional effort is required. To contribute to reaching the targets, STOP AIDS NOW! will continue to support prevention initiatives and offer care, treatment and income opportunities to those affected by HIV and AIDS. In doing so, we particularly focus on women, youth and children, the severest affected groups in generalized epidemics, and at the same time encourage the inclusion of other groups such as sex workers, injecting drug users and men who have sex with men.

Source: UNAIDS
To access the World AIDS Day report and related materials, visit the UNAIDS website