The world is on track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, according to a UNAIDS report. “We are on the way to a generation free of AIDS,” said Ban Ki-moon. The UN secretary general made the statement after it was announced that a target to treat 15 million people living with HIV by the end of the year had been “achieved and exceeded”.
The milestone was reached due to better access to affordable antiretroviral treatment (ART). In response, people with HIV are living 20 years longer than in 2000. In 2000, when the treatment target was set, fewer than 700,000 PLHIV had access to ART; 15 years ago, drugs cost US$14,000 compared to US$100 today.
Between 2000 and 2014, new HIV infections dropped by 35 percent; AIDS-related deaths by 41 percent. In that time, says the report, the global response to HIV has averted 30 million new infections and almost 8 million AIDS-related deaths. Eighty-three countries — including those with major epidemics such as India, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe — have successfully reversed or halted HIV/AIDS in recent years.
Despite the positive news, the report — How AIDS changed everything — warns against complacency, saying more funding and concerted action to reduce stigma is needed to ensure the 2030 goal is met: “Stigma, discrimination and punitive laws continue to affect the people most impacted by HIV and to block their access to HIV services in every region of the world.”
The report also emphasises the urgent need to “scale up” testing (in 2014 only 54 percent of those with HIV knew they were living with the virus). “The world has delivered on halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic,” said Ki-moon. “Now we must commit to ending the AIDS epidemic.” According to UNAIDS, there are between 34.3 million to 41.4 million people living with HIV worldwide.