The scales have tipped in the fight against AIDS, with AIDS-related deaths almost halving since 2005 and more than half of people infected with HIV now getting treatment, the United Nations has said.
- Eastern, southern Africa lead the way reducing HIV infections by a third since 2010
- AIDS-related deaths in Middle East, North Africa, eastern Europe, central Asia rise
- But UNAIDS says it is on track to reach target of 30 million people on treatment by 2020
In its latest global report on the pandemic, which has killed about 35 million people worldwide since it began in the 1980s, the UNAIDS agency said there were particularly encouraging signs in Africa, a continent ravaged by the disease.
Eastern and southern Africa were leading the way, reducing new HIV infections by nearly 30 per cent since 2010, the report said.
Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda and Zimbabwe had gone further, cutting new HIV infections by 40 per cent or more since 2010.
Among the most significant impacts of a vast scale-up of HIV testing, treatment and prevention programs has been in the reduction of AIDS-related deaths, which have dropped by almost half since 2005.
As a result, more people are now living longer in what had been some of the worst affected countries.
In eastern and southern Africa, for example, average life expectancy increased by nearly 10 years from 2006 to 2016.
“Communities and families are thriving as AIDS is being pushed back,” UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidib said.
“As we bring the epidemic under control, health outcomes are improving and nations are becoming stronger.”
In the Middle East, North Africa, eastern Europe and central Asia, however, AIDS-related deaths have risen by 48 per cent and 38 per cent respectively, the report said, mostly due to HIV-positive patients not getting access to treatment.
Exceptions within these regions show that “when concerted efforts are made, results happen”, the report said, noting that between 2010 and 2016, HIV treatment access had increased from 24 per cent to 76 per cent in Algeria, from 16 per cent to 48 per cent in Morocco, and from 29 per cent to 45 per cent in Belarus.
Globally in 2016, 19.5 million of the 36.7 million people with HIV had access to treatment, and AIDS-related deaths fell to 1 million from 1.9 million in 2005.
Provided that scale-up continues, this puts the world on track to reach the global target of 30 million people on treatment by 2020, UNAIDS said.
“We met the 2015 target of 15 million people on treatment and we are on track to double that number to 30 million and meet the 2020 target,” Mr Sidib said.
“We will continue to scale up to reach everyone in need … leaving no one behind.”