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UN Report: Global AIDS Epidemic Can Be Controlled by 2030

Report cites lowest levels of new HIV infections this century

According to a new report from the United Nations, efforts to increase access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) are working. In 2013, an additional 2.3 million people gained access to the life-saving medications. This brings the global number of people accessing ART to nearly 13 million by the end of 2013, the report says. Based on past scale-up, the UN estimates that, as of July 2014, as many as 13,950,296 people were accessing ART.

“If we accelerate all HIV scale-up by 2020, we will be on track to end the epidemic by 2030,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “If not, we risk significantly increasing the time it would take — adding a decade, if not more.”

“We have a fragile five-year window to build on the rapid results that have been made. The next five years will determine the next 15,” he added.

By ending the epidemic by 2030, the world would avert 18 million new HIV infections and 11.2 million AIDS-related deaths between 2013 and 2030, the report estimates.

In 2011, UN member states agreed to a target of making HIV treatment accessible to 15 million people by 2015. As countries increased treatment coverage, and evidence showed how treating HIV early also reduces its spread, the World Health Organization issued new guidelines last year, expanding the number of people needing treatment by more than 10 million.

The new UN report cites the lowest levels of new HIV infections this century, at 2.1 million. In the last 3 years, the rate of new HIV infections declined by 13%.

The UN estimates that 35 million people were living with HIV in the world at the end of 2013. AIDS-related deaths are now at their lowest since the peak in 2005, having declined by 35%, the report says. Moreover, new HIV infections among children have fallen by 58% since 2001. Tuberculosis continues to be the leading cause of death among people living with HIV.

The highest number of people living with HIV was in sub-Saharan Africa — 24.7 million people. Asia and the Pacific had the next largest population of people living with HIV, at an estimated 4.8 million people.

New HIV infections declined most in the Caribbean — by 40% since 2005. However, since that year, the rate of new HIV infections has risen by 8% in western Europe and North America; by 7% in the Middle East and North Africa; and by 5% in eastern Europe and central Asia.

The prevalence of HIV infection is estimated to be 12 times higher among sex workers, 28 times higher among people who inject drugs, and up to 49 times higher among transgender women than among the rest of the adult population.

Sources: UNAIDS; July 16, 2014; and Gap Report; July 2014.

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