July 25, 2017

The global HIV/AIDS epidemic—progress and challenges

Written by The Lancet

This article originally appeared on The Lancet.

On July 20, UNAIDS released their annual report on the status of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, which also includes a comprehensive analysis of progress towards ending AIDS as a public health threat. The latest epidemiological estimates and programmatic data from 168 countries in all regions were reviewed. Worldwide, AIDS-related deaths have declined from a peak of about 1·9 million in 2005 to around 1·0 million in 2016, largely due to treatment scale-up—for the first time more than half of people with HIV are estimated to be on treatment. Since 2010, the annual number of new infections in all age groups has decreased by 16% to around 1·8 million in 2016. However, progress is variable, and despite a global downward trend in the epidemic, several regions are experiencing sharp increases in new infections and struggling to expand treatment.

In 2014, to accelerate progress towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030, UNAIDS launched the 90-90-90 goals. The goals are that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 90% of people receiving ART will achieve viral suppression. The report states that considerable progress has been made towards the 90-90-90 targets, but there are gaps along the continuum that vary across regions. Globally, more than two-thirds of people living with HIV knew their status in 2016. Around 77% of them were on treatment, and 82% of those on treatment had suppressed viral loads. In 2016, around 19·5 million people with HIV (53%) were on treatment, up from 17·1 million in 2015.

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