November 30, 2012
In the recent weeks, both UNAIDS and the Department of State released groundbreaking reports on improvements in the global fight against AIDS as well as a new PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) blueprint for achieving an AIDS-free generation.
On November 20, UNAIDS released its World AIDS Day 2012 report on the global AIDS epidemic, which details much of the progress made in the last few years as well as steps that need to be taken to improve outcomes. According to the report, 25 low- and middle-income countries, more than half of which are in Africa, have seen a 50% or greater drop in new HIV infections since 2001. Furthermore, 1.7 million people died from AIDS-related causes in 2011, 24% fewer than in 2005. The number of people accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) increased by 63% from 2009 to 2011. Half of the reductions in new HIV infections in the last two years have been among newborn children, indicating that achieving zero new HIV infections in children is a real possibility.
Despite the progress made on many fronts, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. There were still 2.5 million new HIV infections in 2011, and many of these new infections are occurring in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Seven million people eligible for HIV treatment still do not have access to that treatment. In 26 of 31 countries with generalized epidemics, less than 50% of young women have comprehensive and correct knowledge about HIV. Other key populations continue to include sex workers, intravenous drug users and men who have sex with men (MSM), where HIV prevalence is much higher than in the general population.
On November 29, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the "PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation," which outlines five principles that provide a road map for the United States and its partners to achieve an AIDS-free generation. The five principles are:
During Secretary Clinton's press event, which AIDS United President and CEO Michael Kaplan attended, she also stressed the importance of reaching out to key populations that are often times discriminated against and victims of structural violence and debilitating stigma, including MSM, sex workers, and people who inject drugs. The blueprint expands on Secretary Clinton's comments, proclaiming that "success in saving lives also depends on promoting and supporting institutional and social changes, such as ending stigma and discrimination against key populations, as well as people living with HIV (PLHIV); promoting gender equality, including education for girls along with economic opportunities and assets for women; preventing and addressing gender-based violence (GBV) and exploitation which continue to put women and girls at higher risk for HIV infection; and repealing laws that penalize people simply because of their sexual orientation." AIDS United is pleased to see such a comprehensive plan focuses efforts on populations known to be at higher risk and who continue to be hardest hit by HIV.
To watch Secretary Clinton deliver her remarks, click here.
To read the Department of State's PEPFAR blueprint, click here.