Thursday, December 01, 2005

Keep the Promise: Stop AIDS

Since the first world AIDS Day 18 years ago, the global community continues to mark December 1 as a day to remember the more than 25 million people who have died from AIDS, and the five million infected annually. An estimated 40.3 million people worldwide are living with HIV, and nearly all will die from AIDS-related complications over the coming decades. More than 95% of all new infections today are in developing countries, making HIV/AIDS among the most serious threats today to long-term global development and stability. Providing AIDS care as part of a comprehensive approach is critical, but it is neither a cure nor a long-term solution. The United Nations Joint Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the joint UNAIDS/WHO report, "AIDS Epidemic Update 2005," featuring updated global and regional estimates for 2005 on HIV and AIDS and new trends in the epidemic’s evolution. Some key findings: State of the Epidemic # In 2005, the total number of people living with HIV reached an all-time high with an estimated 40.3 million worldwide--double the number in 1995. # AIDS claimed 3.1 million lives last year alone; of these, more than 500,000 were children. # Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be the most affected globally, with 64% of new infections occurring in the region (over three million people). # In total, 66% of people living with HIV and more than 75% of all women infected with the virus live in sub-Saharan Africa. # The steepest increases in HIV infections have occurred in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (with a 25% increase to 1.6 million), and East Asia (with a 20% increase to 870,000). # Without HIV prevention measures such as testing and education, about 35% of children born to HIV-positive women will contract the virus. # In high-prevalence countries, AIDS is responsible for an increasing share of under-five mortality. In Africa, the share of child mortality due to AIDS rose from 2% in 1990 to 6.5% in 2003. HIV Treatment and Prevention # More than one million people in low-and middle-income countries are now receiving antiretroviral treatment. # There were 250,000 to 350,000 deaths averted this year because of expanded access to HIV treatment. # Yet, at best, only one person in ten in Africa and one in seven in Asia in need of treatment were receiving it in mid-2005. # Without stronger HIV prevention measures, overall HIV infection rates will continue to rise. # Worldwide, less than one in five people at risk of becoming infected with HIV has access to basic prevention services. # Of people living with HIV, only one in ten has been tested and knows that he or she is infected. # In sub-Saharan Africa, a comprehensive prevention and treatment package would avert 55% of new infections that otherwise could be expected to occur until 2020. # Expanded efforts are urgently needed to discover, manufacture, and deliver new prevention tools that will have a sharp downward impact on new infections and reverse the AIDS epidemic – especially microbicides and vaccines. # The 2005 UNAIDS report emphasizes that a comprehensive response to HIV and AIDS requires the simultaneous acceleration of treatment and prevention efforts with the ultimate goal of universal access to prevention, treatment, and care.

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