News / Health

UN: Global AIDS Epidemic Can Be Tamed by 2030

A doctor draws blood to check for HIV/AIDS at a mobile testing unit in a suburb of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, May 16, 2014.
A doctor draws blood to check for HIV/AIDS at a mobile testing unit in a suburb of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, May 16, 2014.

New HIV infections and deaths from AIDS are decreasing, making it possible to control the epidemic by 2030 and eventually end it “in every region, in every country,” the United Nations said Wednesday.

“More than ever before, there is hope that ending AIDS is possible. However, a business-as-usual approach or simply sustaining the AIDS response at its current pace cannot end the epidemic,” the organization’s UNAIDS program said in a new global report issued ahead next week’s international AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia.

It said the number of people infected with HIV was stabilizing at around 35 million worldwide. The epidemic had killed some 39 million of the 78 million people it has affected since it began in the 1980s.

“The AIDS epidemic can be ended in every region, every country, in every location, in every population and every community,” Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS’ director, said in the report. “There are multiple reasons why there is hope and conviction about this goal.”

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS can be transmitted via blood, breast milk and by semen during sex, but it can be kept in check with cocktails of drugs known as antiretroviral therapy or ART.

UNAIDS said that at the end of 2013, some 12.9 million HIV positive people had access to antiretroviral therapy – a dramatic improvement on the 10 million who were in treatment just one year earlier. Only five million got AIDS drugs in 2010.

Infection, death rates decline

Since 2001, new HIV infections have fallen by 38 percent, UNAIDS reported. AIDS deaths have fallen 35 percent since peaking in 2005.

The U.N. report said ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 would mean that the spread of HIV was being controlled or contained, with significant declines in ill health, stigma, deaths and the number of AIDS orphans.

“It means increased life expectancy, unconditional acceptance of people's diversity and rights, and increased productivity and reduced costs as the impact diminishes,” the report said.

According to UNAIDS, $19.1 billion was available from all sources for the AIDS response in 2013. It estimated a need for at least $22 billion a year by 2015.

Redoubled effort encouraged

But entire countries are being left behind, facing the triple threat of high HIV burden, low treatment coverage and no or little decline in new HIV infections. 

Fifteen countries account for more than 75 percent of the global burden of new HIV infections, the report shows. Three countries in sub-Saharan Africa – Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda – account for 48 percent of all new HIV infections. 

Sidibe told VOA that war and struggling government healthcare systems pose barriers to testing and treatment in the Democratic Republic of Congo and some other African nations.

He said the international community should seize the opportunity to turn the epidemic around.

“We have a fragile five-year window to build on the rapid results that been made,” he said. “If we accelerate all HIV scale-up by 2020, we will be on track to end the epidemic by 2030. If not, we risk significantly increasing the time it would take, adding a decade, if not more.”

He said controlling the epidemic by 2030 would avert 18 million new HIV infections and 11.2 million AIDS deaths between 2013 and 2030.

In 2011, U.N. member states agreed to a target of getting HIV treatment to 15 million people by 2015. As countries scaled up treatment coverage, and evidence showed how treating HIV early also reduces its spread, the World Health Organization (WHO) set new guidelines last year, expanding the number of people needing treatment by more than 10 million.

Jennifer Cohn, medical director of the access campaign for the charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders), said millions of HIV positive people still do not get the drugs they needed.

“Providing life-saving HIV treatment to nearly 12 million people in the developing world is a significant achievement, but more than half of people in need still do not have access,” she said. “We know that early treatment helps prevent transmission of HIV and keeps people healthy; we need to respond to HIV in all contexts and make treatment accessible to everyone in need as soon as possible.”

VOA's Lisa Schlein contributed to this report from Geneva, Switzerland.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs