The number of new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections has dropped by a third overall since 2001 and more than halved among children, the United Nations reported today, September 23.
Last year, 2.3 million people in the world contracted the AIDS virus, which is down 33 percent from 2001. Among children, 260,000 persons became infected, or more than a third fewer than in 2009 and 52 percent down from 2001.
“The annual number of new HIV infections continues to decline with especially sharp reductions in the number of children newly infected with HIV,” said UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe.
Due to the progress in distributing antiretroviral drugs that prevent the transmission of the virus from pregnant women to their unborn children, the UNAIDS said it may be possible to cut new infections among kids by 90 percent in the next two years. The UN agency also said the drugs had prevented more than 670,000 children contracting HIV which causes AIDS from 2009 to 2012 alone.
In 2005 globally 2.3 million people died AIDS-related deaths, in 2011 this number dropped to 1.8 million, and in 2012 – to 1.6 million people, according to UNAIDS.
The report also revealed that 9.7 million people in low- and middle-income countries, where the majority of the infected people live, had access to HIV drugs last year, compared to only 1.3 million in 2005. However, this still falls short of a UN target announced two years ago to reach 15 million people by 2015.
The progress in Sub-Saharan Africa
About 90 percent of the world’s 3.3 million infected youngsters are from Sub-Saharan Africa. The UNAIDS reported, however, that the decline in the number of infections in the region was particularly striking.
In Ghana, 90 percent of pregnant, HIV-positive women had access to antiretroviral treatment last year, up from just 32 percent three years earlier. As a result, the likelihood of women infecting their unborn children dropped from 31 percent in 2009 to just nine percent last in, said UNAIDS.
“If we do not pay now, we will pay later, we’ll pay forever”
UNAIDS said the 2008 global financial crisis had not affected the contributions made by international donors to combating HIV, and individual countries were increasingly picking up the tab to beat HIV at home.
Last year, for example, nations accounted for 53 percent of the $18.9 billion set aside to fight the virus. The UN has set a target of $22-24 billion by 2015. Earlier this year, Sidibe assured that the investment would pay off. He also noted that fewer deaths and less sickness takes a burden off the healthcare system, allowing HIV-positive people to work and contribute to the economy for longer.
“If we do not pay now, we will pay later, we’ll pay forever,” he said.
According UNAIDS estimates, in 2011 in Nigeria:
Number of people living with HIV: 3,400,000 [3,000,000 – 3,800,000].
Adults aged 15 to 49 prevalence rate: 3.70% [3.30% – 4%].
Adults aged 15 and up living with HIV: 3,000,000 [2,600,000 – 3,300,000].
Women aged 15 and up living with HIV: 1,700,000 [1,500,000 – 1,900,000].
Children aged 0 to 14 living with HIV: 440,000 [380,000 – 510,000].
Deaths due to AIDS: 210,000 [190,000 – 240,000].
Orphans due to AIDS aged 0 to 17: 2,200,000 [1,800,000 – 2,500,000].