A primary focus of United Nations (UN) World AIDS Day this year, observed every year on December 1, continues to be the “Getting to Zero” by 2015 campaign, initiated in 2011 – meaning zero AIDs-related deaths, zero new infections and zero discrimination. A new report by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) indicates positive returns from the significantly stepped-up global response to AIDS, although disturbing statistics still persist. In observance of World AIDS Day, the White House Thursday published details of the United States’ (US) global HIV/AIDS strategy going forward.
The UN report shows 81 countries increased their investment in the fight against HIV/AIDS by 50% and that a more than 50% reduction in the rate of new HIV infections has been achieved in 25 low- and middle-income countries – more than half in Africa, the region most affected by HIV.
The most progress is being made in reducing new HIV infections in children. Half of the global reductions in new HIV infections in the last two years have been among newborns.
Of the 34 million people globally living with HIV in 2011, about half do not know their HIV status. The report states that if more people knew their status, they could come forward for HIV services.
Also in 2011, 2.5 people globally were newly infected with HIV and 1.7 people died from AIDS-related illness.
The report shows an estimated 6.8 million people in the world need treatment and are not receiving adequate care and an additional 4 million discordant couples (where one partner is living with HIV) would benefit from HIV treatment to protect their partners from HIV infection.
HIV continues to have a disproportionate impact on sex workers, men who have sex with men and unregulated intravenous drug users. HIV prevention and treatment programs are mostly failing to reach these key populations.
“When discrimination, stigma, and other factors drive these groups into the shadows, the epidemic becomes that much harder to fight. That’s why we are supporting country-led plans to expand services for key populations, and bolstering the efforts of civil society groups to reach out to them,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the State Department on Thursday in a speech in observance of World AIDS Day.
The White House Thursday released a statement from the president in observance of World AIDS Day in which he pointed up the US stake in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
“Today, I am pleased my Administration will make public new data that demonstrates we are on track to meet the ambitious treatment and prevention targets I announced on World AIDS Day a year ago. As of today, we are treating over 5 million people with lifesaving medicines for AIDS, up from 1.7 million in 2008,” said President Barack Obama.
Secretary Clinton used the occasion at the State Department on Thursday to unveil the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” — a five-point roadmap for how the US government intends to wage its global battle against HIV/AIDS.
- Make strategic, scientifically sound investments to rapidly scale-up core HIV prevention, treatment and care interventions and maximize impact.
- Work with partner countries, donor nations, civil society, people living with HIV, faith-based organizations, the private sector, foundations and multilateral institutions to effectively mobilize, coordinate and efficiently utilize resources to expand high-impact strategies, saving more lives sooner.
- Focus on women and girls to increase gender equality in HIV services.
- End stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and key populations, improving their access to, and uptake of, comprehensive HIV services.
- Set benchmarks for outcomes and programmatic efficiencies through regularly assessed planning and reporting processes to ensure goals are being met.
“…as I pledged last year, we are on track to treat 6 million people by the end of 2013. This year, we have also reached over 700,000 HIV-positive pregnant women with antiretroviral drugs that will prevent them from passing the virus to their children,” said the president.
“As we continue this important work with our partners around the world and here at home, let us remember the lives we have lost to AIDS, celebrate the progress we have made, and, together, recommit to ourselves to achieving our shared vision of an AIDS-free generation,” concluded the president in his written statement.
Note: PEPFAR Blueprint Summary: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/11/201195.htm