News / Africa

UNAIDS: 2011 Game Changing Year

Nandi Makhele, 25, poses for a portrait while wearing a T-shirt indicating that she is HIV-positive, in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township February 15, 2010. Some 5.6 million people live with HIV/AIDS in South Africa - more than in any other country.
Nandi Makhele, 25, poses for a portrait while wearing a T-shirt indicating that she is HIV-positive, in Cape Town's Khayelitsha township February 15, 2010. Some 5.6 million people live with HIV/AIDS in South Africa - more than in any other country.
TEXT SIZE - +
Joe DeCapua

The new report from UNAIDS says 2011 brought unprecedented progress in science, political leadership and results. It says despite the financial crisis, greater access to HIV treatment had a dramatic effect on the lives of millions of people.

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS calls 2011 a “game changing year.” Its new report is called How to get to Zero: Faster, Smarter, Better.  It says both HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths “have fallen to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic.”

“Faster, smarter, better reflects our desire for reducing the HIV epidemic and also reducing to the maximum possible the damage that it is doing. We build on the success stories that we pick up from different places in the world to show those as examples so that other countries could follow them,” said Peter Ghys is UNAIDS chief epidemiologist.

The UNAIDS report says new infections are down 21 percent since 1997 and AIDS-related deaths have fallen 21 percent since 2005.

Several reasons for the decline

“Close to half of all people who need treatment are currently accessing that treatment. So this comes to about 6.6 million people. Some of the same drugs are also use to reduce mother to child transmission. So that’s another area where we are seeing favorable trends,” said Ghys.

In all, it’s estimated more 14 million people are eligible for treatment.

Africa remains the hardest hit by the epidemic. The report says 68 percent of all people living with HIV/AIDS are in sub-Saharan Africa. And the region accounts for 70 percent of all new infections. South Africa continues to have more people living with HIV/AIDS than any other country, with 5.6 million.

Despite those figures, Ghys said there is good news for sub-Saharan Africa.

“First of all, it is the epicenter of the epidemic. It is the region that is most affected. But it is also a region where we have quite a few good examples of favorable trends. So, this is true in the area of treatment where a lot of progress has been made,” he said.

There are also favorable trends among African youth, such as having fewer sexual partners and a greater use of condoms.

Do what works

In these times of tight budgets and spending cuts among donors, UNAIDS has come up with what’s called an investment framework. The goal is to target those areas that are most successful.  This includes anti-retroviral treatment and prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV.

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance calls the report encouraging.

“For the first time we have seen the tremendous result of a collective effort paying off,” said Dr. Gitau Mburu, the alliance’s senior adviser on HIV. The collective effort includes governments, civil society, communities, scientists and healthcare workers.

Mburu said the UNAIDS report shows that prevention has taken root in some areas.

“It has shown that in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, a few have them have been able to reach the universal access for HIV treatment, including such countries as Botswana and Namibia. We are therefore very encouraged to see that amid the current levels of funding for HIV response that there is some hope for us to see that there is good outcome at the end of the day,” he said.

However, Mburu agrees with the report that stigma and discrimination continue to be obstacles to ending the epidemic.

“A gay man in Uganda right now cannot be able to go to a doctor to seek an HIV test and disclose that he is a man who has sex another man because of laws that criminalize such populations. And we do know that in m many parts of Asia, as well, that sexworkers who are at risk of HIV infection also face a lot of barriers in terms of being arrested and bad policing policies, which make it very difficult for these kind of marginalize populations to see proper HIV prevention interventions,” he said.

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance calls for continued funding of programs that are proven to work. It warns that a reduction could put progress that’s been made at risk.

At the end of 2010, between 31 million and 35 million people were believed living with HIV/AIDS. There were about 2.7 million new infections and 1.8 million people who died of HIV/AIDS-related illnesses.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid