June 6, 2011
Since the turn of the new millennium, HIV infection rates have dropped almost 25 percent; fewer people are dying of AIDS; and unparalleled strides have been made in accessibility to therapy and prevention assistance, according to "AIDS at 30: Nations at the Crossroads," a report released Thursday by UNAIDS.
The report notes that 2.6 million people became HIV-positive in 2009, raising the number of people living with HIV to 34 million at the close of 2010. Although approximately 6.6 million people living in developing countries are on antiretrovirals, an additional 9 million stand in need of the drugs.
"We have made tremendous progress in stabilizing or reducing rates of new infections in nearly 60 countries," UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe wrote. However, he pointed out that this success further underscores the "rampant stigma and discrimination that contributes to rising infection rates among key populations at high risk, and to the vulnerability of women and girls."
Sex workers, according to the report, experienced an increase in HIV prevalence from 44 to 50 percent between 2008 and 2010. At the same time, HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men went from 30 percent to 36 percent. Additionally, one in five of the 15.9 million intravenous drug users around the world are HIV-positive.
Resources donated to help developing countries grapple with AIDS jumped by $14.3 billion from 2001-09. However, despite the persistent need, such funding recently declined for the first time.
Compared to HIV's staggering growth between 1981 and 2000, the report states worldwide reaction to HIV has realized "important achievements" -- while still falling short of global and national prevention targets.
"People in rich countries don't die from AIDS anymore, but those in poor countries still do and that's just not acceptable," former President Bill Clinton wrote in the report.