Winning the war on Aids

2014-07-17 00:00

GENEVA — It is possible to end Aids, the United Nations (UN) said yesterday.

While South Africa is still worst affected by Aids, the UN said yesterday global Aids-related deaths and new HIV infections have fallen by over a third in a decade.

“Ending the Aids epidemic is possible,” UNAids head Michel Sidibe said. But with over with 35 million people still living with HIV worldwide, he said the battle is far from over. “We have a fragile five-year window to build on the rapid results that been made. The next five years will determine the next 15.”

In a review of the pandemic released ahead of the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia from July 20 to 25, the UN agency said Aids-related deaths dropped to 1,5 million in 2013 from 1,7 million the previous year.

That was the sharpest annual decline since the peak hit in 2004 and 2005, and marked a 35% drop from the 2,4 million deaths seen in both those years. Africa remains the hardest-hit continent, accounting for 1,1 million deaths in 2013, 1,5 million new infections, and 24,7 million people living with HIV.

UNAids noted that in sub-Saharan Africa, access to condoms remained a major problem, with only eight available per year for each sexually-active person.

In Asia, concerns focus on India and Indonesia — infections in the latter have jumped by 48% since 2005.

The international community has expressed repeated concern about vulnerable groups who can miss out on treatment in societies where they are marginalised. The World Health Organisation recently called for greater efforts to treat gay men, transgender people, prisoners, people who inject drugs and sex workers, who together account for about half of all new HIV infections worldwide.

Sidibe said no one should be left behind in order to close the gap between “people who are protected and the people who are punished”.

— Sapa-AFP.

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