THE SCALES HAVE TIPPED—UNAIDS ANNOUNCES 19.5 MILLION PEOPLE ON LIFE-SAVING TREATMENT AND AIDS-RELATED DEATHS HALVED SINCE 2005
The 90–90–90 targets are galvanizing global action and saving lives. Eastern and southern Africa leading the way in reducing new HIV infections by nearly 30% since 2010—Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda and Zimbabwe have reduced new HIV infection by nearly 40% or more since 2010. Concerted efforts still needed for children, adolescents, men and key populations, and in certain regions.
UNAIDS has released a new report showing that for the first time the scales have tipped: more than half of all people living with HIV (53%) now have access to HIV treatment and AIDS-related deaths have almost halved since 2005. In 2016, 19.5 million of the 36.7 million people living with HIV had access to treatment, and AIDS-related deaths have fallen from 1.9 million in 2005 to 1 million in 2016. Provided that scale-up continues, this progress puts the world on track to reach the global target of 30 million people on treatment by 2020.
“We met the 2015 target of 15 million people on treatment and we are on track to double that number to 30 million and meet the 2020 target,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “We will continue to scale up to reach everyone in need and honour our commitment of leaving no one behind.”
The region showing the most progress is eastern and southern Africa, which has been most affected by HIV and which accounts for more than half of all people living with HIV. Since 2010, AIDS-related deaths have declined by 42%. New HIV infections have declined by 29%, including a 56% drop in new HIV infections among children over the same period, a remarkable achievement resulting from HIV treatment and prevention efforts that is putting eastern and southern Africa on track towards ending its AIDS epidemic.
WHAT’S ON TRACK
The report, Ending AIDS: progress towards the 90–90–90 targets, gives a detailed analysis of progress and challenges towards achieving the 90–90–90 targets. The targets were launched in 2014 to accelerate progress so that, by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV are accessing sustained antiretroviral therapy and 90% of all people accessing antiretroviral therapy are virally suppressed.
The report shows that in 2016 more than two thirds (70%) of people living with HIV now know their HIV status. Of the people who know their status, 77% were accessing treatment, and of the people accessing treatment, 82% were virally supressed, protecting their health and helping to prevent transmission of the virus.
Eastern and southern Africa, western and central Europe and North America and Latin America are on track to reach the 90–90–90 targets by 2020. In eastern and southern Africa, 76% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 79% of people who know their HIV-positive status have access to antiretroviral therapy and 83% of people who are on treatment have undetectable levels of HIV—this equates to 50% of all people living with HIV in eastern and southern Africa with viral suppression. The Caribbean and Asia and the Pacific can also reach the 90–90–90 targets if programmes are further accelerated.
Seven countries have already achieved the 90–90–90 targets—Botswana, Cambodia, Denmark, Iceland, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland—and many more are close to achieving it.
“Ending AIDS is possible - it is a shared engagement and aspiration. One that cities can lead while promoting inclusive societies for all,” said Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris.
The most significant impact of 90–90–90 scale-up has been in reducing AIDS-related deaths, which have been reduced by almost half in the past 10 years. As a result, life expectancy has increased significantly in the most affected countries. In eastern and southern Africa, life expectancy increased by nearly 10 years from 2006 to 2016.
“Communities and families are thriving as AIDS is being pushed back,” said Mr Sidibé. “As we bring the epidemic under control, health outcomes are improving and nations are becoming stronger.”
90-90-90: more work to do
Progress against the 90–90–90 targets has, however, been poor in the Middle East and North Africa and in eastern Europe and central Asia, where AIDS-related deaths have risen by 48% and 38%, respectively. There are exceptions within these regions showing that when concerted efforts are made, results happen. For example, Algeria has increased HIV treatment access from 24% in 2010 to 76% in 2016, Morocco from 16% in 2010 to 48% in 2016 and Belarus from 29% in 2010 to 45% in 2016.
Globally, progress has been significant, but there is still more work to do. Around 30% of people living with HIV still do not know their HIV status, 17.1 million people living with HIV do not have access to antiretroviral therapy and more than half of all people living with HIV are not virally suppressed.
Eliminating new HIV infections among children
Global solidarity to stop new HIV infections among children has produced results. Around 76% of pregnant women living with HIV had access to antiretroviral medicines in 2016, up from 47% in 2010. New HIV infections among children globally have halved, from 300 000 [230 000–370 000] in 2010 to 160 000 [100 000–220 000] in 2016. Five-high burden countries—Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Uganda—have already met the milestone of diagnosing and providing lifelong antiretroviral therapy to 95% of pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV.
New HIV infections are declining, but not fast enough
The report also shows that, globally, new HIV infections are declining, but not at the pace needed to meet global targets. Globally, new HIV infections declined by 16% from 2010 to 2016, to 1.8 million [1.6 million–2.1 million]. Declines were estimated in 69 countries, in the majority of which treatment scale-up has been implemented alongside an increase in the availability of combination HIV prevention services and in some countries condom use. However, alarming increases have been seen in new HIV infections in eastern Europe and central Asia.