UNAIDS Reports 38.6 M People Living With HIV/AIDS Worldwide; Progress Cited in Some Areas
Although the spread of HIV/AIDS appears to be slowing worldwide and some regions are reporting progress in bringing the pandemic under control, some countries are failing to reach key targets for prevention and treatment, according to the "2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic" released Tuesday by UNAIDS, Reuters reports (Arieff, Reuters, 5/30). The report estimates that at the end of 2005, 38.6 million people worldwide were living with HIV and credits a more accurate count to improvements in data collection, according to AFP/Yahoo! News (AFP/Yahoo! News, 5/30). In 2005, roughly 4.1 million people became infected with HIV, and 2.8 million died of AIDS-related causes compared with the 2004 estimate of 4.9 million new infections and 3.1 million deaths (Arieff, Reuters, 5/30). According to the Los Angeles Times, the lower 2005 estimate does not represent a decrease in rates, rather more accurate reporting. The report was released ahead of this year's U.N. General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, which is scheduled to begin on Wednesday in New York City and will last three days (Maugh, Los Angeles Times, 5/31). The 630-page report compiles data from 126 countries, as well as independent data from more than 30 civil society organizations, and reviews global progress in controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS since the 2001 U.N. General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, Long Island Newsday reports (Nelson, Long Island Newsday, 5/31).
According to the report, surveys from more than 70 countries show four times as many people seek testing and counseling today than did so five years ago. However, the "vast majority" of those infected worldwide have not been tested and remain unaware of their status, Reuters reports. The report also indicates that in 58 countries, AIDS education is provided in 74% of primary schools and 81% of secondary schools (Arieff, Reuters, 5/30). While the number of people in developing countries receiving treatment for HIV/AIDS has increased five fold in five years, "far fewer than half" of people in immediate need of antiretroviral drugs are receiving treatment (Brown, Washington Post, 5/31). India has overtaken South Africa as the country with the highest number of HIV-positive people, with 5.7 million people living with the disease, compared with 5.5 million in South Africa. However, because of India's population of 1.1 billion -- compared with South Africa's 44 million -- the country's HIV prevalence still is considered low, Karen Stanecki of UNAIDS said (Los Angeles Times, 5/31). In addition, the report finds that despite the decreasing HIV prevalence in Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, African leaders are not responding adequately to the epidemic. "Close to 60% of the global human loss" from AIDS-related causes is in Southern Africa, UNAIDS Regional Director Mark Stirling said Tuesday at a news conference releasing the report, adding, "[I]t's a grim situation" (Quinn, Reuters, 5/30). The report also finds that Cambodia and Thailand have made significant progress in controlling the spread of HIV, but in other countries, including Indonesia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam, the spread of the disease is cause for concern, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. In addition, Barbados, The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and Haiti showed they had "dented the progress of HIV," however Guyana has a "serious epidemic underway," according to AFP/Yahoo! News (AFP/Yahoo! News, 5/30). "I think we will see a further globalization of the epidemic spreading to every single corner of the planet," UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said. Piot said he is most disturbed by the finding that only 9% of pregnant women in developing countries have access to services that prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, despite UNAIDS' goal of 80% coverage (Mason, AP/Forbes, 5/30).
Delegates at the U.N. session plan to draft a new plan to provide universal access to HIV/AIDS care by 2010 (Washington Post, 5/31). In 2006, $8.9 billion is expected to be available to fight HIV/AIDS in developing countries, but $14.9 billion will be needed, according to UNAIDS. The agency projects the need for resources will rise to $22.1 billion by 2008, including $11.4 billion for prevention (Arieff, Reuters, 5/30). HIV/AIDS advocates are pushing for the meeting to focus on prevention and treatment efforts, especially those aimed at addressing HIV among women (LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor, 5/31).
Easy access to the new HIV/AIDS data, including country comparisons and interactive maps, can be found on Kaiser Family Foundation's GlobalHealthFacts.org
A webcast of the "2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic" release will be available online later today on kaisernetwork.org.
Several broadcast programs reported on the UNAIDS report and the 25th anniversary of the first AIDS diagnosis:
- APM's "Marketplace": The segment includes comments from Paul DeLay of UNAIDS; David Gartner, policy director of the Global AIDS Alliance; and Renata Simone, "Frontline" senior producer and reporter (Palmer, "Marketplace," APM, 5/30). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NPR's "Morning Edition": The segment includes comments from Mark Dybul, deputy U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, and Piot (Wilson, "Morning Edition," NPR, 5/31). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NPR's "Talk of the Nation": The segment includes comments from Noerine Kaleeba, who founded the AIDS Support Organization in Uganda; Richard Knox, NPR science desk correspondent; Andrew Moss, professor of epidemiology at the University of California-San Francisco; and Drew Tillotson, clinical psychologist and surviving partner of Archie Harrison, who was profiled by NPR from 1987-1988 and died of AIDS-related causes (Conan, "Talk of the Nation," NPR, 5/30). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer": The segment includes comments from Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Kaleeba; Wafaa El-Sadr, chief of infectious disease at Harlem Hospital Center and director of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health; and Eric Sawyer, co-founder of the advocacy group ACT UP and co-founder of Housing Works, the largest provider of housing for people with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. (Suarez, "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," PBS, 5/30). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.