Aids can be beaten worldwide by 2030, UN reports says

World has opportunity to end epidemic 'in every country' if it ramps up its response

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 July, 2014, 1:45am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 July, 2014, 10:53am

New HIV infections and deaths from Aids are decreasing, the UN said yesterday, making it possible to control the epidemic by 2030 and eventually end it "in every region, in every country".

"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 programme UNAids said in a global report issued ahead of an HIV/Aids conference in Melbourne next week.

It said the number of people infected with HIV was stabilising at about 35 million worldwide. The epidemic has 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, the director of UNAids, said in the report. "There are multiple reasons why there is hope and conviction about this goal."

The human immunodeficiency virus that causes Aids can be transmitted via blood, breast milk and by semen during sex, but can be kept in check with antiretroviral drugs.

UNAids said that at the end of last year, some 12.9 million HIV-positive people had access to antiretroviral therapy - a dramatic improvement on the 10 million who were on treatment just one year earlier, and the only 5 million who were getting Aids drugs in 2010.

Since 2001, new HIV infections had fallen by 38 per cent, it said. Aids deaths have fallen 35 per cent since a peak in 2005.

"The world has witnessed extraordinary changes in the Aids landscape. There have been more achievements in the past five years than in the preceding 23 years," the report said.

The UN report said ending the Aids epidemic by 2030 would mean the spread of HIV was being controlled or contained, and that the impact of the virus in societies and in people's lives had been reduced by 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."

According to UNAids, US$19.1 billion was available from all sources for the Aids response in 2013, and the estimated annual need by next year was US$22 billion to US$24 billion.

Sidibe 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."