Mixed Progress in Worldwide Fight Against HIV/AIDS

The number of HIV/AIDS deaths worldwide each year has fallen since peaking in 2005, but the number of new HIV infections is up in 74 countries, according to a new study.

Deaths from HIV/AIDS fell to 1.2 million in 2015 from 1.8 million in 2005. Though the number of new HIV infections has decreased since a peak of 3.3 million in 1997, it has been relatively stable at about 2.5 million a year for the past decade.

Worldwide, new HIV infections fell just 0.7 percent a year between 2005 and 2015, compared to 2.7 percent a year between 1997 and 2005, the study found.

Sub-Saharan Africa continued to be a trouble spot, accounting for three-quarters of new HIV infections (1.8 million) in 2015. Last year, south Asia had 8.5 percent (212,500) of new infections; southeast Asia, 4.7 percent (117,500); and east Asia, 2.3 percent (57,500).

Between 2005 and 2015, the percentage of people with HIV who were receiving antiretroviral therapy rose sharply from 6.4 percent to more than 38 percent among men, and from 3.3 percent to 42 percent among women.

Still, most countries remain well short of the United Nations’ target for 81 percent of people with HIV to be getting antiretroviral therapy by 2020. But researchers noted that four countries are close: Sweden, with 76 percent; and the United States, Netherlands and Argentina at about 70 percent.

The study was published in The Lancet HIV on July 19, when it also was presented at an international AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.

“Although scale-up of antiretroviral therapy and measures to prevent mother-to-child transmission have had a huge impact on saving lives, our new findings present a worrying picture of slow progress in reducing new HIV infections over the past 10 years,” said study lead author Haidong Wang in a journal news release. He is an assistant professor of global health at the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The institute’s director, Christopher Murray, said that development assistance for HIV/AIDS is stagnating and health resources in many low-income countries are likely to plateau over the next 15 years.

“Therefore, a massive scale-up of efforts from governments and international agencies will be required to meet the estimated $36 billion needed every year to realize the goal of ending AIDS by 2030, along with better detection and treatment programs and improving the affordability of antiretroviral drugs,” Murray said.

More information

The World Health Organization has more on HIV/AIDS.

Source: HealthDay

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