19m people with HIV unaware of having the virus: UNAIDS report


KARACHI: A new report by UNAIDS issued from Geneva on Wednesday showed that 19 million of the 35 million people living with HIV globally do not know their HIV-positive status.   “Whether you live or die should not depend on access to an HIV test,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Smarter scale-up is needed to close the gap between people who know their HIV status and people who don’t, people who can get services and people who can’t and people who are protected and people who are punished.”

The UNAIDS Gap report shows that as people find out their HIV-positive status they will seek life-saving treatment. In sub-Saharan Africa, almost 90% of people who tested positive for HIV went on to access antiretroviral therapy (ART). Research shows that in sub-Saharan Africa, 76% of people on ART have achieved viral suppression, whereby they are unlikely to transmit the virus to their sexual partners New data analysis demonstrates that for every 10% increase in treatment coverage there is a 1% decline in the percentage of new infections among people living with HIV.

The report highlights that efforts to increase access to ART are working. In 2013, an additional 2.3 million people gained access to the life-saving medicines. This brings the global number of people accessing ART to nearly 13 million by the end of 2013. Based on past scale-up, UNAIDS projects that as of July 2014 as many as 13 950 296 people were accessing ART.

“If we accelerate all HIV scale-up by 2020, we will be on track to end the epidemic by 2030,” said Mr Sidibé. “If not, we risk significantly increasing the time it would take—adding a decade, if not more.”

By ending the epidemic by 2030, the world would avert 18 million new HIV infections and 11.2 million AIDS-related deaths between 2013 and 2030.

The report reveals that just 15 countries* account for more than 75% of the 2.1 million new HIV infections that occurred in 2013. In every region of the world the report finds that there are three or four countries that bear the burden of the epidemic. In sub-Saharan Africa, just three countries—Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda—account for 48% of all new HIV infections.

However, the report also shows that entire countries are being left behind—for example, six nations—Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russian Federation and South Sudan—are facing the triple threat of high HIV burden, low treatment coverage and no or little decline in new HIV infections.

In the first report of its kind, the UNAIDS Gap report emphasizes the importance of location and population through an in-depth regional analysis of HIV epidemics and through analysis of 12 populations at higher risk of HIV. It analyses the reasons for the widening gap between people gaining access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, and people being left behind. It shows how focusing on populations that are underserved and at higher risk of HIV will be key to ending the AIDS epidemic.

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