UN Reports ‘Dramatic’ Progress in fight Against AIDS

The global rate of HIV infection and the number of AIDS-related deaths have been dramatically reduced, thanks to expanding access to treatment, the UN said in a statement on Monday.

In its annual update on HIV, which puts the figure of infected people worldwide at around 35.3 million, UNAIDS said that deaths from AIDS and HIV infection rates were falling, while the number of people getting treatment was going up.

AIDS-related deaths in 2012 fell to 1.6 million, down from 1.7 million in 2011 and a peak of 2.3 million in 2005.

Also the number of people newly-infected with the disease dropped to 2.3 million in 2012 down from 2.5 million in 2011.

The Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) that causes AIDS can be transmitted via blood, breast milk and by semen during sex, but can be kept in check with cocktails of drugs known as anti-retroviral treatment or therapy.

By the end of 2012, some 9.7 million people in poorer and middle-income countries had access to such AIDS drugs, an increase of nearly 20 per cent in a year.

Since 2001, the UN report said, there had been a 52 per cent drop in annual new HIV infections among children and a 33 per cent reduction in newly infected adults and children combined.

In 2011, UN member states agreed to a target of getting HIV treatment to 15 million people by 2015.

As countries scaled up treatment coverage and as evidence showed how treating HIV early also reduces its spread, the WHO set new guidelines this year, expanding the number of people needing treatment by more than 10 million.

Mr Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS’ Executive Director, said that the international community should aim to surpass the 2015 goal.

“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,” he said in a statement.

The UNAIDS report found that in spite of a flattening in donor funding for HIV, which has remained near 2008 levels, individual countries’ domestic spending on the epidemic had increased, accounting for 53 per cent of global HIV resources in 2012.

Total funding for the global fight against HIV and AIDS in 2012 was 18.9 billion dollars, about 3 billion to 5 billion dollars short of the estimated 22 billion to 24 billion dollars needed annually by 2015.

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