International AIDS Society

On World AIDS Day, Treatment Rate Up, AIDS Death Rate Down

Author: Mark Mascolini

01 December 2011

Nearly half of HIV-positive people in low- and middle-income countries who need antiretrovirals (ARVs) now get the drugs, according to the 2011 World AIDS Day update from UNAIDS. And the AIDS death rate in those countries fell sharply.

“Even in a very difficult financial crisis, countries are delivering results in the AIDS response.” UNAIDS chief Michel Sidibé says. “We have seen a massive scale-up in access to HIV treatment which has had a dramatic effect on the lives of people everywhere.”

But ongoing financial turmoil has hurt the global HIV effort, as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria announced that it will award no new grants until 2014. Some struggling high-income countries that failed to meet donation commitments or to renew commitments took the blame.

Donor funding for HIV and AIDS waned in recent years, UNAIDS calculates. For low- and middle-income countries, donor outlays fell from $7.6 billion in 2005 to $6.9 billion in 2010, a 9% drop.

Despite this declining support, progress against the epidemic has been striking. UNAIDS and the World Health Organization estimate that 6.6 million of an estimated 14.2 million people eligible for antiretroviral therapy in low- and middle-income countries are now being treated. This 46.5% treatment rate includes an additional 1.35 million people on ARVs since 2009.

And wider treatment appears to be limiting the spread of HIV, because people with an undetectable viral load rarely transmit HIV to sex partners. In Botswana, for example, the proportion of people who need and get ARVs jumped from 5% in 2000 to over 80% in 2009, according to UNAIDS. Over the same period, the annual number of new HIV infections in Botswana fell by more than two thirds.

Researchers estimate that the number of new HIV infections in Botswana is 30% to 50% lower today than it would have been without antiretroviral therapy.

In low- and middle-income countries, AIDS deaths declined from an estimated 2.2 million in 2005 to 1.8 million in 2010, an 18% drop. Statisticians estimate that wider ARV treatment since 1995 has saved 2.5 million lives in low- and middle-income countries.

Source: UNAIDS. Nearly 50% of people who are eligible for antiretroviral therapy now have access to lifesaving treatment. 21 November 2011.

For the UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report 2011

For the press release