There has been “extraordinary progress” in the global fight against HIV. The world has already met the goal to give life-saving treatment to 15 million people with HIV and the global response is on track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, a UN report says.
In September 2000, the world leaders came together to tackle global poverty and disease, while also promoting gender equality, education and environmental sustainability. These targets would come to be known as the millennium development goals (MDG). When the goal to tackle HIV and AIDS was first set – MDG 6 – fewer than 700,000 people were receiving vital treatment. Since then, global investment in HIV has risen from $4.8bn to more than $20bn in 2014.
People with HIV can expect to live two decades longer as a result of wider access to treatment due to the massive reductions in cost of antiretroviral medicines, according to the report by the UN’s Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS). New HIV infections have fallen by 35% and AIDS-related deaths by 41%.
“Fifteen years ago there was a conspiracy of silence. AIDS was a disease of the ‘others’ and treatment was for the rich and not for the poor,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, in a statement.
“We proved them wrong, and today we have 15 million people on treatment – 15 million success stories.”
30 million new HIV infections and 7.8 million AIDS-related deaths have been averted since 2000. New HIV infections dropped by 35% between 2000 and 2014, a reduction from 3.1 million to 2 million. According to the report, 83 countries, which account for 83% of all people living with HIV, halted or reversed their epidemics in 2014.
The MDGS, which will expire at the end of the year, will be replaced with the post-2015 development agenda. The 515-page report acknowledges that more work needs to be done. Progress for children has been slower, as only 32% of children living with HIV have access to life-saving medicines in 2015, which is most likely due to a lack of testing. The report also highlights the particular challenge of getting people tested and urges the global community to scale up HIV testing.
The report also states that the next five years will be critical in ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Governments need to increase investment in what the report describes as a “five-year window” to reduce new HIV infections by 89% and AIDS-related deaths by 81% by 2030.