The global fight again HIV is getting better, with new measures to eliminate the stigma, better treatment, more access to medicines and as the result the number of infections have also down.
According to official figures, Annual new infections, which indicate whether an epidemic is growing or ebbing, reduced to 1.7 million in 2018, down from 1.8 million the year before.
In India, new HIV infections declined by 27% between 2010 and 2017. The number people living with HIV fell from 2.30 million to 2.14 million during that period despite a 1.24% annual rate of increase in the country’s population that stands at 1.36 billion.
In another positive development ahead of the World AIDS Day on December 1, the world’s first HIV positive sperm bank has been launched in New Zealand in an effort to reduce the stigma experienced by those living with the virus.
At the end of 2018, there were 36.7 million people with HIV worldwide. Of these, 79% had been diagnosed, 62% were on treatment, and 53% had reduced their HIV levels through sustained treatment, to the point at which they have substantially reduced risk of transmitting HIV, according to WHO.
A report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) says 24.5 million infected people using antiretroviral therapy (ART) are living healthier and longer lives, indicating that there has been a drop in death rate.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued new recommendations to help countries reach the 8.1 million people living with HIV who are yet to be diagnosed, and who are therefore unable to obtain lifesaving treatment.
“The face of the HIV epidemic has changed dramatically over the past decade,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “More people are receiving treatment than ever before, but too many are still not getting the help they need because they have not been diagnosed. WHO’s new HIV testing guidelines aim to dramatically change this.”
Sperm Positive in New Zealand has begun with three male donors from across New Zealand who are living with HIV but have an undetectable viral load, meaning the amount of the virus in a person’s blood is so low that it cannot be detected by standard methods.
Though new infections have declined by 40% worldwide since the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1997, it is critical to reach out to all, including high-risk groups, to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, said the report from UNAIDS.