The number of people receiving life-saving HIV treatment has doubled every five years since the peak of the epidemic in 2000, according to a new UNAIDS report ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1. Doubling that number one more time will break the epidemic, said UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe in a release accompanying the report.
UNAIDS estimates that of the 36.9 million people living with HIV and eligible for antiretroviral treatment, 15.8 million are receiving it. This is up from 7.5 million receiving treatment in 2010 and 2.2 million in 2005. UNAIDS says new HIV infections have fallen by 35 percent since the peak in 2000 and AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 42 percent since the peak in 2004.
Access to antiretroviral therapy upon diagnosis is an essential component of UNAIDS’ Fast-Track approach to end the epidemic by 2030. UNAIDS says using increasingly local data to map and reach people in the places where the most new HIV infections occur and where people need services the most will avert 21 million AIDS-related deaths and will prevent 28 million new infections by 2030.
The report highlights high-impact HIV prevention and treatment programs in more than 50 communities. It emphasizes the need to identify areas and services where efforts are having little impact, and to increase investments in hard-hit areas and high-priority interventions.
Highlighted programs include a mapping program in Kenya to reduce new infections among sex workers, providing methadone to thousands more prisoners in Iran, and using gay dating apps to reach men who have sex with men with comprehensive HIV services in Guatemala City. When health facilities in Quangxi, China began offering immediate antiretroviral therapy initiation following HIV diagnosis, deaths fell by two-thirds.