NEW YORK — The United Nations released a report that found the AIDS epidemic could be brought under control by 2030, in light of new data finding the number of new HIV infections and deaths from AIDS were both falling.
The report found that there has been an almost 38 percent reduction in the number of new cases since 2001. In 2013, there were 2.1 million more reported cases. This number is much lower than the 3.4 million new reported cases in 2001.
In addition, the report found that deaths related to AIDS have decreased substantially to 1.5 million, a reduction of approximately 13 percent over the past three years.
Factors contributing to the decline include better access to drugs and increased rates of circumcision, reducing the risk of contracting or spreading HIV.
Access to drugs has increased dramatically since 2010. In 2013, approximately 12.9 million people had access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in comparison to the 10 million receiving treatment in 2011 and the much lower number of five million people obtaining the drugs in 2010.
The end of the epidemic would imply the spread of the virus to be controlled and a drastic reduction in the virus’s effect on people’s lives.
However, the U.N. calls for an increased international effort. The number of people suffering with HIV has stabilized around 35 million worldwide and a worrying 19 million of these people are unaware of that they are infected. In addition, fewer than four in 10 people suffering from HIV are receiving ART.
If international efforts are not increased and remain at current levels, Michael Sable, the director of UNAIDS believes that “we risk significantly increasing the time it would take – adding a decade or more.”
If the epidemic can be controlled by 2030, it would save the lives of 11.2 million people and prevent 18 million new HIV infections between 2013 and 2030.
The problem is particularly acute in 15 countries, which account for three-fourths of all new infections. Three of these countries–Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda–account for the 48 percent of all new infections. Eighty percent of the people in Nigeria have no access to treatment while there are approximately 1000 new infections each day in South Africa.
The U.N. hopes to target these high-risk and harder to reach populations for increased efforts. However, in addition to expanding and providing treatment, the U.N. believes that a wider social change is required to control the epidemic. The attitudes, stigmas and beliefs surrounding the retrovirus are hindering efforts toward ending the epidemic.
Global sources provided $19.1 billion for AIDS efforts in 2013 and the estimated annual need by 2015 is currently between $22 billion and $24 billion.
– William Ying