THE latest progress report* from UNAIDS, the United Nations body charged with combating HIV and AIDS, brings mixed news. On the positive side, as the chart shows, the death rate from AIDS continues to fall. In 2016 there were 1m AIDS-related fatalities, down from 1.9m in 2005, the year of peak mortality. This reflects the successful promulgation of antiretroviral drugs in almost all parts of the world to those already infected. Such drugs can keep symptoms at bay indefinitely, prolonging lifespans to those enjoyed by the uninfected.
As the chart also shows, the death rate among women and girls is both lower than that for men and boys, and is also falling faster. This is despite both sexes having similar rates of infection (indeed, at 51% of the infected population, females carry a slightly higher burden of the disease). This inequality probably reflects both earlier diagnosis of women, whose HIV status is checked routinely at antenatal clinics, and a more responsible female attitude towards taking any drugs prescribed. It also suggests that consideration should be given as to how campaigns can be designed more effectively to reach and penetrate the brains of men.
Less happily, the rate of new infections, though dropping, is not doing so as fast as UNAIDS and its allies had hoped. Read more via the Economist