UNAIDS released a report in honor of World AIDS Day today documenting the advances in the political, scientific, and medical responses to AIDS made in 2011 and calling for a renewed effort to stop the spread of the disease. The UNAIDS report indicates that “Nearly 50% of people who are eligible for antiretroviral therapy now have access to lifesaving treatment,” and “new HIV infections were reduced by 21% since 1997, and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses decreased by 21% since 2005.” According the UN Women, of the 34 million people living with HIV, 50 percent are women. Moreover, “In sub-Saharan Africa, 60% of the people living with HIV are female,” and “in southern Africa prevalence among young women aged 15-24 years is on average about three times higher than among men of the same age.”
UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, “Today on World AIDS Day, I encourage all partners in the response to AIDS to zero in on women and girls. Greater progress can be made by empowering women as agents of change, promoting their leadership in the AIDS response, and tackling the stigma, discrimination and violence they face. Today less than half of reporting countries have a specific budget for HIV activities related to women.”
Jan Beagle, UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, noted both the progress made in AIDS treatment efforts and the need for continued work to curb the spread of the epidemic. She stated that in 2011, “700,000 lives were saved- Now some 6.6 million people in low- and middle-income countries, are on antiretroviral drugs – this is nearly half those who need treatment. A significant achievement considering that 5 years ago, only 1.2 million people were able to access treatment – but still a clear reminder that further scale up is needed if we want to capitalize on the possibility to end the epidemic.”
Since 1981, over 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide, and about 33 million are living with the infection. In the United States every year, approximately 56,000 people are infected with HIV and 16,000 die of AIDS. As of 2001, 1.4 million people have started taking protease inhibitors. Less than half of the 15 million people who should be taking the drugs actually have access to them.