According to a recent report of the United Nations Aids agency, we have already met the target of making HIV treatment accessible to 15 million people before 2015 ends. The goal was achieved nine months before the deadline, back in March.
It’s an achievement that follows decades of international humanitarian efforts and persistent investment in getting antiretroviral drugs to those who need it the most – those living in sub-Saharan Africa.
When the UN first started its fight against HIV in 2000, records showed that fewer than 700,000 people struggling with the disease had access to the vital treatment. The UN Aids report estimates that the more than 30 million new HIV infections and almost 8 million deaths were avoided in the past decade due to the incredible global response to HIV.
During the same time frame, the rate of new HIV cases has dropped to 1.8 million each year from 2.6 million; a significant decrease was also visible in Aids-related deaths, which have gone down from 1.6 million to 1.2 million.
In order for these results to be possible, the international response had to go up, which it did. The global investment in HIV was only $4.8 billion in 2000, but it exceeded the $20 billion threshold in 2014.
What’s even better news is that the UN Aids is confident that the Aids epidemic could be ended by 2030 – if humanitarian efforts will continue at least at the same rate. Unfortunately, progress has been slowing down in some areas.
Ending Aids faces a particular challenge from the fact that lack of HIV status awareness still presents a great barrier to treatment access. Making treatment for children more accessible has also lagged behind, but efforts are focusing on improving in this area.
Worthy of mentioning is also the fat that children living with HIV who have access to antiretroviral therapy have doubled in number from 2010 to 2014, but coverage still needs particular attention from concerned organizations.
Even though the rate of which HIV infects new people each year has definitely gone down, it’s still unacceptably large, adding a great strain on the burden of the epidemic. Sub-Saharan Africa is still the worst-affected area, home to 66 percent of all new HIV infections.
According to the latest reports, there are almost 25.8 million people living with HIV in this region, while the global headcount was estimate at 36.9 million.
More needs to be done, even though the Millennium Development Goals have been met. This year, the UN Aids plans to switch to broader Sustainable Development Goals as the second phase of stopping and reversing the Aids epidemic.
Image Source: Yale Journal