Nearly 50% of people who are eligible for antiretroviral therapy now have access to lifesaving treatment

Published: November 21, 2011

BERLIN/GENEVA, 21 November 2011—A new report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), released today shows that 2011 was a game changing year for the AIDS response with unprecedented progress in science, political leadership and results. The report also shows that new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic. New HIV infections were reduced by 21% since 1997, and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses decreased by 21% since 2005.

“Even in a very difficult financial crisis, countries are delivering results in the AIDS response.” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “We have seen a massive scale up in access to HIV treatment which has had a dramatic effect on the lives of people everywhere.”

According to UNAIDS and WHO estimates, 47% (6.6 million) of the estimated 14.2 million people eligible for treatment in low- and middle-income countries were accessing lifesaving antiretroviral therapy in 2010, an increase of 1.35 million since 2009. The 2011 UNAIDS World AIDS Day report also highlights that there are early signs that HIV treatment is having a significant impact on reducing the number of new HIV infections.

In Botswana, patterns in sexual behaviour have remained relatively stable since 2000. The country scaled up access to treatment from less than 5% in 2000 to over 80% which it has maintained since 2009. The annual number of new HIV infections has declined by over two thirds since the late nineties and data suggests that the number of new HIV infections in Botswana is 30% to 50% lower today than it would have been in the absence of antiretroviral therapy. As treatment reduces the viral load of a person living with HIV to virtually undetectable levels, it also reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to an uninfected partner. Recent studies show that treatment can be up to 96% effective in preventing HIV transmission among couples.

At the end of 2010 an estimated:

    34 million [31.6 million – 35.2 million] people globally living with HIV
    2.7 million [2.4 million – 2.9 million] new HIV infections in 2010
    1.8 million [1.6 million – 1.9 million] people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2010

Treatment has averted 2.5 million deaths since 1995

People living with HIV are living longer and AIDS-related deaths are declining due to the lifesaving effects of antiretroviral therapy. Globally there were an estimated 34 million people [31.6 million – 35.2 million] living with HIV in 2010, and since 2005, AIDS-related deaths decreased from 2.2 million [2.1 million – 2.5 million] to 1.8 million [1.6 million – 1.9 million] in 2010. Around 2.5 million deaths are estimated to have been averted in low- and middle-income countries due to increased access to HIV treatment since 1995.

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