report titled Together
we will end AIDS and released by UNAIDS ahead of the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC, says
that more than eight million people now have access to antiretroviral therapy,
an increase of 20 percent from 2010 to 2011. Also, while the number of people
newly infected with HIV in 2011 was still a too-high 2.5 million, it represents
a decrease of 20 percent compared to 2001, and the number of new infections has
been decreasing consistently for the past ten years.
“New infections among children have
declined dramatically for the second year in a row,” writes UNAIDS Executive
Director Michel Sidibé in the report. In 2011, 57 percent of
the estimated 1.5 million pregnant women living with HIV in low- and middle-income
countries received antiretroviral drugs to avoid transmitting the virus to
their children. This is an increase of nearly 10 percent in just one year. However,
3.4 million children younger than 15 are still living with HIV, the vast
majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
report also praises the current era of shared responsibility, in which low- and
middle-income countries have “seized the opportunity to demonstrate
ownership of their national AIDS response.”
“They are transcending the outdated
donor–recipient paradigm and using the AIDS response to create a new and more
sustainable agenda for global health and development,” says Sidibé. The numbers
in the report back up these words. More than 50 percent (an estimated $8.6
billion) of the global response is now provided by domestic resources in low-
and middle-income countries.
the number of people living with HIV is currently at a peak of 34.2 million, many
of those living with the virus today are alive due to the increasing availability
of antiretroviral therapy. The most dramatic progress has been in sub-Saharan
Africa, where the percentage of people eligible for treatment who were
receiving it rose by 19 percent (to 56 percent) from 2010 to 2011.
related and encouraging sign is the steady decline in AIDS-related deaths since
2006, when the worldwide number was 2.6 million. That number has decreased each
year since and hit a new low in 2011 of 1.7 million.
Sidibé sees these numbers as signs of progress, his focus is on a
much lower number. “If
we cannot envision a world without AIDS, then we will always be dealing with
its consequences,” he says. “Getting to zero is our only option. No other
number is good enough for us, for our families and partners, for our children,
and for their children.”