World steadily turn­ing the tide against HIV/Aids scourge

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

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

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