Worldwide HIV Infection Rates Have Stalled, Are Rising in Some Regions, UNAIDS Warns
July 12, 2016
Globally, new HIV infections among adults and children were reduced by 40% since the peak in 1997. However, new analysis from UNAIDS shows that new HIV infections among adults have stalled, failing to decline for at least five years. The report outlines what is needed to step up prevention efforts.
A new report by UNAIDS reveals concerning trends in new HIV infections among adults. The Prevention gap report shows that while significant progress is being made in stopping new HIV infections among children (new HIV infections have declined by more than 70% among children since 2001 and are continuing to decline), the decline in new HIV infections among adults has stalled. The report shows that HIV prevention urgently needs to be scaled up among this age group.
HIV Prevention Gap Among Adults
The Prevention gap report shows that an estimated 1.9 million adults have become infected with HIV every year for at least the past five years and that new HIV infections among adults are rising in some regions. The Prevention gap report gives the clear message that HIV prevention efforts need to be increased in order to stay on the Fast-Track to ending AIDS by 2030.
"We are sounding the alarm," said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. "The power of prevention is not being realized. If there is a resurgence in new HIV infections now, the epidemic will become impossible to control. The world needs to take urgent and immediate action to close the prevention gap."
The AIDS epidemic has had a huge impact over the past 35 years. Since the start of the epidemic, 35 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses and an estimated 78 million people have become infected with HIV.
Equity and Access for Key Populations
In 2014, key populations, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients, transgender people, people who inject drugs and prisoners, accounted for 35% of new HIV infections globally. It is estimated that men who have sex with men are 24 times more likely to become infected with HIV than the general population, while sex workers are 10 times more likely and people who inject drugs are 24 times more likely to become infected than the general population. In addition, transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV and prisoners are five times more likely to be living with HIV than adults in the general population
It is essential for key populations to have access to the full range of HIV prevention options in order to protect themselves and their sexual partners from HIV. "Today, we have multiple prevention options," said Mr Sidibé. "The issue is accessif people do not feel safe or have the means to access combination HIV prevention services we will not end this epidemic."
Prevention Dividend From HIV Treatment Still to Be Realized
The report highlights that the major hopes for antiretroviral therapy to have an impact on preventing new HIV infections are starting to be realized, although the full benefits may not be seen for some years.
The Prevention gap report estimates that over half of all people living with HIV, 57%, now know their HIV status, that 46% of all people living with HIV have access to antiretroviral treatment and that 38% of all people living with HIV have viral suppression, keeping them healthy and preventing onward transmission of the virus. This underscores the urgent need for the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets to be met to realize the full potential of antiretroviral therapy. The 90-90-90 targets are 90% of people knowing their HIV status, 90% of people who know their status accessing antiretroviral treatment and 90% of people on treatment having suppressed viral loads.
HIV Prevention Funding Gap
The reports of rising numbers of new HIV infections are coming as data reveal donor funding has declined to its lowest levels since 2010. International donor contributions dropped from a peak of US$ 9.7 billion in 2013 to US$ 8.1 billion in 2015. Low- and middle-income countries are stepping up to fill the gap, with domestic resources accounting for 57% of the US$ 19.2 billion total funding in 2015.
The report notes that although international funding, the main source of funding for HIV prevention for people at higher risk of HIV, has reduced, some major donors are making bold commitments to ensure that funding reaches the people most affected by HIV. In June 2016, the United States of America announced the launch of a new US$ 100 million Key Populations Investment Fund to increase access to HIV services for key populations.
The current allocation of resources for HIV prevention is falling far short of what is needed. Currently, 20% of global resources for HIV are being spent on HIV prevention. The report indicates that to have maximum impact funding should focus on the location and population approach in order to reach people at higher risk with combination prevention options where they live and work.
This article was provided by UNAIDS. Visit UNAIDS' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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