• Fighting AIDS

    At the end of 2011, an estimated 34 million people were living with HIV worldwide, with two-thirds of them living in sub-SaharanAfrica. This reflects the continued large number of new HIV infections and a significant expansion of access to antiretroviral therapy, which has helped reduce AIDS-related deaths, especially in more recent years.

    The number of people dying of AIDS-related causes fell to 1.7 million in 2011, down from a peak of 2.2 million in the mid-2000s; in 2012 alone 700,000 AIDS related deaths were averted.

    HIV treatment

    It is estimated that at least 8 million people in low- and middle-income countries are currently receiving HIV treatment, reflecting an increase of 63 percent from 2009 to 2011. Ten low- and middle-income countries (including Cambodia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Zambia and Namibia, among others) have achieved universal access, defined as extending coverage to at least 80 percent of those in need of treatment.

    Worldwide, there were more than 500,000 fewer deaths in 2011 than there were in 2005, and the number of AIDS-related deaths declined bynearly one-third during that time.

    International efforts as channeled through the Global Fund have been critical; by end 2012 Global Fund-supported programs had provided 1.7million HIV-positive pregnant women with treatment to prevent transmission to theirchildren, 250 million HIV testing and counseling sessions, the purchase and distribution of 4.2 billion condoms, and more than 19 million basic care and support services have been provided.

    HIV prevention

    However, HIV continues to spread – in 2011, 2.5 million people were newly infected with HIV. Although this number remains sobering, it is also important to note that 25 countries have seen their numbers of new infections drop by 50 percent or more, and that half of the infections averted worldwide were among newborns, demonstrating that it is possible to eliminate new infections in children.

    In countries with generalised epidemics, a combination of behavior changes, including reductions in numbers of sexual partners, increases in condom use, and delayed age of first sex, have reduced new infections in several countries. However, some regions are seeing their rates of infection grow significantly. For example, the number of new infections in the Middle East and North Africa region has grown by more than 35 percent. And Eastern Europe is seeing infection rates climb, particularly among most-at-risk populations.

    New tools for prevention are being implemented, as can be seen by large-scale circumcision campaigns, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

    The increase in coverage of antiretroviral treatment will also aid in slowing new infections. Studies have shown that putting a person on treatment as soon as they are diagnosed can reduce the risk of transmission of the virus by up to 90 percent.

    Challenges to reversing the spread of HIV

    Thirty years after AIDS was first reported, HIV continues to spread. Existing prevention efforts, although improving, are often insufficiently comprehensive or inadequately tailored to local epidemics.

    Epidemiological surveillance systems at the country level also need to be strengthened, particularly where there are key populations at higher risk of HIV infection. For example, studies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia show that many people who inject drugs actively avoid seeking health services due to the risk of ostracism or fears that their health providers will report them to law enforcement authorities. Such obstacles limit individuals’ access to basic health services as well as treatment for HIV.

    Greater political commitment to implementing evidence-informed programs is also needed if progress is to be made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

    HIV and human rights

    The Global Fund is committed to fighting for the rights of people directly or indirectly affected by HIV and AIDS through the programs it supports. It works to ensure that these programs address the needs of the poorest, at-risk and marginalized groups.