UN agency reports ‘dramatic’ progress on reducing new HIV infections

A woman suffering from HIV/AIDS in Cambodia uses a stick to walk back to her bed in hospital. Photo: World/Masaru Goto

23 September 2013 – The rate of new HIV infections fell by one-third over the past decade due to increased spending and effective treatment, the United Nations agency leading the global HIV/AIDS response today reported.

The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimated that 2.3 million adults and children were newly infected with HIV in 2012, a figure that represents a 33 per cent reduction in annual new cases compared to 2001.

In the same time period, new HIV infections among children fell 52 per cent to 260,000 in 2012.

The report “shows dramatic acceleration towards reaching 2015 global targets on HIV,” according to a news release from the UN agency.

Millennium Development Goal 6 calls for halting by 2015 and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, and to achieve universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it.

“Not only can we meet the 2015 target of 15 million people on HIV treatment – we must also go beyond and have the vision and commitment to ensure no one is left behind,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

The report also found that greater access to antiretroviral treatments led to a 30 per cent drop in AIDS-related deaths from the peak in 2005.

By the end of 2012, some 9.7 million people in low- and middle-income countries have accessed antiretroviral therapy, an increase of nearly 20 per cent in just one year.

According to the report, significant results have also been achieved towards meeting the needs of tuberculosis (TB) patients living with HIV, a figure down 36 per cent since 2004.

Meanwhile, domestic spending on HIV has increased, accounting for 53 per cent of global HIV resources in 2012, even as donor funding has plateaued at its 2008 levels.

Spending on HIV and AIDS was estimated at $18.9 billion in 2012. An estimated $22-24 billion will be needed each year by 2015, UNAIDS reported.

The report also found that progress has been slow in ensuring the respect of human rights, securing access to HIV services for people most at risk of HIV infection, particularly people who use drugs, and in preventing violence against women and girls.

Gender inequality, punitive laws and discriminatory actions are continuing to hamper national responses to HIV and concerted efforts are needed to address these persistent obstacles to the scale up of HIV services for people most in need.


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