Some Success in War on AIDS

UN reports some success in global war on AIDS, but more than 50% of sufferers in “third world” remain without treatment.

Maayana Miskin , | updated: 2:13 PM

AIDS memorial quilt
AIDS memorial quilt
US govt, Wikicommons

The United Nations reported modest success in the global “War on AIDS” on Thursday night. According to UNAIDS, The world body's AIDS agency, there has been a decline of almost 25% in new HIV infections over the past ten years, and a decline of more than 26% in the rate of new infections in children.

Rates of new infections were down in sub-Saharan Africa and south and southest Asia in particular. Rates remained stable in east Asia, west and central Europe and North America.

The agency also reported “unprecedented advances” in prevention services and access to treatment.

However, the latest data also showed that well over 50% of AIDS and HIV sufferers in developing countries still receive no treatment. An estimated 9 million sufferers in low and middle-income countries are not treated with anti-retroviral drugs, while another 6.6 million do receive the vital treatment.

In 28 countries - among them Russia, Iran, Egypt and Colombia - less than 20% of HIV carriers receive treatment.

In positive news, the overall rate of treatment is up. A record 1.4 million people with HIV began anti-retroviral treatment in 2010, among them nearly half a million children. Several countries, among them Botswana, Cambodia, Cuba, Oman and Rwanda, managed to provide treatment for 80% or more of HIV sufferers.

Research showed that while overall infections are down, the rate of HIV infection among prostitutes and homosexual men is up. An estimated 50% of prostitutes worldwide, and 36% of men who engage in homosexual sex carry the HIV virus as of 2010, as do 20% of those who use injected drugs.

Rates of new infection were up in the Middle East, northern Africa and eastern Europe.

Israel's War on AIDS
Israel has taken part in the fight against AIDS on several fronts. Researchers at Israeli institutions are working to find a cure and have made breakthroughs in treatment.

Leading doctors from many sub-Saharan African countries have visited Israel for seminars on AIDS treatment.

Israeli doctors have also played a role in spreading the practice of male circumcision in Africa, after finding that circumcised males are 65% less likely to contract HIV. Doctors have traveled to South Africa to perform circumcisions, and have trained doctors from Senegal to perform the procedure in their home country.

Within Israel, there were estimated to be just under 6,400 people living with HIV or AIDS as of 2009. Seventeen percent of AIDS carriers in Israel are illegal migrants, most of them from Africa.

More Help Needed
Contributors to the UNAIDS report warned that progress was possible only with international aid. “The number of people becoming infected and dying is decreasing, but the international resources needed to sustain this progress have declined for the first time in 10 years,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

UNAIDS Director Michel Sibide said the agency strives to meet goals of universal access to drug treatment for HIV, and end to discrimination against sufferers, and a rate of zero new HIV infections. To reach those goals, billions of dollars in aid will be necessary, he said.

“I am worried that international investments are falling at a time when the AIDS response is delivering results for people,” he added. “If we do not invest now, we will have to pay several times more in the future.”