Stabilization/significant declines in rates of new HIV infections seen in 56 countries –Monday, November 29, 2010 – 11:57 am
Source: Guyana Chronicle
UNAIDS Global AIDS Report 2010
A new report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), released last Thursday, shows that the AIDS epidemic is beginning to change course, as the number of people newly infected with HIV is declining and AIDS-related deaths are decreasing. According to the report, released ahead of World AIDS Day 2010, the AIDS epidemic has been halted and the world is beginning to reverse the spread of HIV.
“New HIV infections have fallen by nearly 20% in the last 10 years, AIDS-related deaths are down by nearly 20% in the last five years, and the total number of people living with HIV is stabilizing,” the report says.
“Together, this is contributing to the stabilization of the total number of people living with HIV in the world,” it observed.
But even as Executive Director of UNAIDS, Mr. Michel Sidibé, lauds this development as a ‘breaking of the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic with bold actions and smart choices’, he has challenged the international community to work towards accelerating progress.
Noting that investments in the AIDS response are paying off, he nonetheless observed that gains are fragile, adding: “The challenge now is how we can all work to accelerate progress.”
In keeping with our mandate to bring you, our readers, up-to-date and highly credible peer-reviewed information on developments taking place in the world of HIV/AIDS, today, the Guyana Chronicle Workplace HIV/AIDS Mailbox, brings you in capsule, excerpts from the report alluded to:
- An estimated 2.6 million [2.3 million–2.8 million] people became newly infected with HIV, nearly 20% fewer than the 3.1 million [2.9 million–3.4 million] people infected in 1999.
- In 2009, 1.8 million [1.6 million–2.1 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses, nearly one-fifth lower than the 2.1 million [1.9 million–2.3 million] people who died in 2004.
- At the end of 2009, 33.3 million [31.4 million–35.3 million] people were estimated to be living with HIV, up slightly from 32.8 million1 [30.9 million–34.7 million] in 2008. This is in large part due to more people living longer as access to antiretroviral therapy increases
Against this backdrop, the HIV/AIDS Mailbox wishes to highlight some of the significant achievements made by some of the countries reputed to have been the worst affected by HIV, and show how we can learn from each others’ experiences, as we seek to rise above complacency, and work towards accelerating progress.
More Facts from the UNAIDS 2010 Report:
- Among young people in 15 of the most severely affected countries, the rate of new HIV infections has fallen by more than 25%, led by young people adopting safer sexual practices. In South Africa, the rate of new HIV infections among 18-year-olds declined sharply from 1.8% in 2005 to 0.8% in 2008, and among women 15–24 years-old, it dropped from 5.5% to 2.2% between 2003 and 2008.
- In 59 countries, including 18 of the 25 countries with the highest HIV prevalence, less than 25% of men reported having sex with more than one partner in the last 12 months. Eighty-four countries reported the same behaviour trends for women
- Condom use and availability have increased significantly. Eleven countries—from Burkina Faso, to India, and Peru—report more than 75% condom use at last higher-risk sex.
- Data from 78 countries show that condom use among men who have sex with men was more than 50% in 54 countries. Reports of condom use by sex workers are also encouraging. In 69 countries, more than 60% of sex workers used a condom with their last client.
Also included in the UNAIDS report are worrying trends in relation to the spread of HIV in countries which previously have had a record of achieving measurable success in the fight against HIV. Commenting on the state of the epidemic in the Caribbean Region, the report had this to say, among other things:
- Aside from sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean is the only region where the proportion of women and girls living with HIV (53%) is higher than that of men and boys.
- Unprotected sex between men and women—especially paid sex—is thought to be the main mode of HIV transmission in the Caribbean.
- Sex-work, sex between men and drug use play a key role in HIV transmission
- High HIV infection levels have been found among female sex workers in the region: 4% in the Dominican Republic, 9% in Jamaica and 27% in Guyana.
- One in five men who have sex with men surveyed in Trinidad and Tobago was living with HIV, and one in four said that they regularly had sex with women. In Jamaica, an estimated 32% of men who have sex with men are living with HIV.
- In Bermuda and Puerto Rico, unsafe injecting drug use contributed significantly to the spread of HIV. In Puerto Rico, an estimated 40% of new HIV infections in men and 27% in women in 2006 resulted from contaminated injecting equipment.
- HIV-burden varies considerably between and within countries in the Caribbean. Cuba, for example, has a very low HIV prevalence of 0.1% [0.08%–0.13%] while the Bahamas has the highest HIV adult prevalence in the region, at 3.1% [1.2%–5.4%].
Simply put, what is required, as was demonstrated in the reports coming out of Africa, is a renewed and determined commitment to bring about and sustain positive behaviour change and such lessons are not new to the Caribbean.
Resource demand outstripping supply
Meanwhile, addressing the issue of resource demands outstripping supply, the report highlights the urgent need to sustain and scale up good investments and for countries to share the financial burden of the epidemic.
UNAIDS estimates that a total of US$ 15.9B was available for the AIDS response in 2009, US$10B short of what is needed in 2010, adding that funding from international sources appears to be reducing.
Concerned that donor governments’ disbursements for the AIDS response in 2009 stood at US$ 7.6B, lower than the US$ 7.7B available in 2008, the report warns that ‘declines in international investments will affect low-income countries the most, since nearly 90% rely on international funding for their AIDS programmes.”
But while this is so, many countries are under-investing and need to increase their domestic financial commitments to sustain and scale up the AIDS response, UNAIDS, according to the report.
Meanwhile, a new Domestic Investment Priority Index developed by UNAIDS shows that almost half of the 30 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are spending less than their capacity— commensurate to their disease burden and availability of government resources.
The index also shows that some developing countries with strong economies can meet a substantial portion of their resource needs from domestic sources alone.