Globally, around 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2018, a 16 per cent decline since 2010, said the UNAIDS in its recently-released report. The decline was driven mostly by steady progress in fighting the condition across most of eastern and southern Africa. The UNAIDS’ Global AIDS Update showed that South Africa, for example, made huge advances and has successfully reduced new HIV infections by more than 40 per cent, and AIDS-related deaths by around 40 per cent since 2010.
The report also revealed that AIDS-related deaths continued to decline as access to treatment continues to expand and more progress is made in improving the delivery of HIV/tuberculosis services.
Since 2010, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 33 per cent to 7,70,000 in 2018.
However, there is still a long way to go in eastern and southern Africa, the region most affected by HIV. There have also been worrying increase in new infections in eastern Europe and central Asia (29 per cent), in the Middle East and North Africa (10 per cent) and in Latin America (seven per cent).
The report also said that “key populations and their sexual partners now account for more than half (54 per cent) of new HIV infections globally”.
In 2018, key populations, including people who inject drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers and prisoners, accounted for around 95 per cent of new HIV infections in eastern Europe and central Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa.
However, the report also showed that less than 50 per cent of key populations were reached with combination HIV prevention services in more than half of the countries that reported.
This highlighted that key populations were still being marginalised and being left behind in the response to HIV.
“We urgently need increased political leadership to end AIDS,” the report quoted Gunilla Carlsson, UNAIDS Executive Director. Carlson said, “This starts with investing adequately and smartly and by looking at what’s making some countries so successful. Ending AIDS is possible if we focus on people, not diseases, create roadmaps for the people and locations being left behind, and take a human rights-based approach to reach people most affected by HIV.”
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