World steadily turning the tide against HIV/Aids scourge
LONDON: The scales have tipped in the fight against Aids, with more than half the people infected with HIV now getting treatment and Aids-related deaths almost halving since 2005, the UN said yesterday.
In its latest global report on the pandemic, which has killed at least 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 are leading the way, reducing new HIV infections by nearly 30% since 2010, the report said.
Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda and Zimbabwe have gone further, cutting new HIV infections 40% or more since 2010.
And among the most significant impacts of a vast scale-up of HIV testing, treatment and prevention programmes, has been in the reduction of Aids-related deaths, which have dropped by almost half since 2005.
As a result, more people in what had been some of the worst affected countries in the world are now living longer.
In eastern and southern Africa, for example, average life expectancy increased nearly 10 years from 2006 to last year.
“Communities and families are thriving as Aids is being pushed back,” said Unaids executive director Michel Sidibé. “As we bring the epidemic under control, health outcomes are improving and nations are becoming stronger,” he said.
The report warned, however, that not all regions are making progress.
In the Middle East and North Africa, and in eastern Europe and central Asia, Aids-related deaths have risen 48% and 38% respectively, it 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 Algeria increased HIV treatment access to 76% last year from 24% in 2010, Morocco to 48% last year from 16% in 2010, and Belarus to 45% from 29%.
Globally last year, 19.5 million of the 36.7 million people with HIV had access to treatment, and Aids-related deaths have fallen to 1 million from 1.9 million in 2005.
Provided that such a 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,” said Sidibé.
“We will continue to scale up to reach everyone in need, leaving no one behind,” he added. – Reuters