The response to the worldwide AIDS epidemic continues to make significant progress in HIV prevention, improved treatment, and reduced AIDS-related deaths, a new UN report released on November 20th says, giving hope about the possibility for the end of AIDS.
“The global community has embarked on an historic quest to lay the foundation for the eventual end of the AIDS epidemic,” stated the United Nations in its latest report on the global AIDS pandemic. “This effort is more than merely visionary. It is entirely feasible.”
The report was released in advance of World AIDS Day Saturday, December 1.
However unsafe sexual behavior, intravenous drug use, stigma, discrimination, and misinformation remain as formidable challenges in stemming a disease that, entering its fourth decade, has claimed nearly 30 million HIV-related deaths.
Since the beginning of the epidemic more than 60 million people have contracted HIV, But there is evidence that the AIDS pandemic is declining.
“Results,” the title of a 48-page report issued by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), shows a dramatic 50 percent decrease in new HIV infections across 25 low- and middle-income countries, mostly in Africa, the continent most affected by HIV.
Altogether, new infections globally fell to 2.5 million last year, down from 2.6 million, which represents a 20-percent decrease from 2001.
Better yet, in some countries with the highest prevalence of HIV in the world, rates of infection have been reduced dramatically since 2001. For example, in Malawi the infection rate dropped by 73 percent. In Botswana, the rate is down 71 percent, with similar decreases reported in Namibia (down 68 percent), Zambia (down 58 percent), Zimbabwe (down 50 percent), and South Africa and Swaziland (down 41 percent).
Declining numbers of HIV infections in children is a particularly encouraging finding of the report. Half the global reductions in new HIV infections in the last two years have been among new-borns.
Last year, for instance, 330,000 children worldwide were infected with HIV, down from 370,000 in 2010 and 43 percent fewer than in 2003, according to UNAIDS.
Yet too many youth in the United States continue to become infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and few are tested. That’s one overarching take away point from a new report out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose release was also timed ahead of World AIDS Day.
Young people between the ages of 13 and 24 in the U.S. account for more than a quarter of new HIV infections each year (26 percent); and 60 percent of these youth living with HIV are unaware they are infected, according to the CDC’s Vital Signs report, released on Tuesday, November 27.
The most-affected young people are young gay and bisexual men and African-Americans.
The analysis looked at the latest data on HIV infections, testing, and risk behaviors among young people.
By race/ethnicity, 57 percent of estimated new infections in this age group were in African-Americans.