UNAIDS releases new stats on HIV/AIDS worldwide

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has released its 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic.  The report indicates that many countries have seen redeuctions in the number of AIDS deaths and new HIV infections, and more people around the world are getting access to effective HIV/AIDS treatment.  It warns, however, that there is no room for complacency: incidence continues to rise in some areas, and HIV/AIDS remains an extremely serious global health problem.

According to a UNAIDS press release, UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. Peter Piot said, “Gains in saving lives by preventing new infections and providing treatment to people living with HIV must be sustained over the long term.  Short-term gains should serve as a platform for reinvigorating combination HIV prevention and treatment efforts and not spur complacency.”

The complete report can be accessed from the UNAIDS website.  Click here for an Executive Summary of the report (PDF download, 36 pages).

The UNAIDS report has been fairly widely discussed in mainstream news outlets, so I’m going to provide more info mainly in the form of quotes and excerpts from some key articles.  I’ll be using the following sources:



Fewer people are dying of AIDS, more patients are on HIV medication and the global AIDS epidemic is stable after peaking in the late 1990s. […]

UNAIDS estimates the number of AIDS case worldwide at 33 million; its previous estimate of 40 million was revised last year because of changes to how it counts cases.[…]

Officials estimate that 2 million people died from AIDS last year, down from approximately 2.2 million in 2005.  –AP

The 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic notes that the number of people living with HIV around the world has stabilised at around 33 million.

There is some evidence that prevention campaigns have played a role, but the plateau in prevalence is also the result of deaths due to AIDS occurring at a similar rate to new HIV infections. About 2 million adults and children died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2007, but 2.7 million were newly infected; down slightly from 3 million in 2001. 

Heterosexual intercourse is still driving the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, which shouldered two-thirds of the global AIDS burden and three-quarters of all AIDS-related deaths in 2007. In other parts of the world HIV is mainly affecting people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, and sex workers.  –IRIN/PlusNews


[T]here have been significant gains in preventing new HIV infections in a number of heavily affected-affected countries.  In Rwanda and Zimbabwe, changes in sexual behavior have been followed by declines in the number of new HIV infections.

Condom use is increasing among young people with multiple partners in many countries.  Another encouraging sign is that young people are waiting longer to have sexual intercourse.  This has been seen in seven of the most affected countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Uganda and Zambia.  In Cameroon the percentage of young peopel having sex before the age of 15 has gone down from 35% to 14%.

From 2005 to 2007 the percentage of HIV positive pregnanct women receiving antiretroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) went up from 14% to 33%.  In this same period the number of new infections among children fell from 410,000 to 370,000.  –UNAIDS

UNAids reports that since 2005 there has been a tripling of HIV prevention efforts, with a focus on sex workers, men who have sex with men, and injecting drug users.  –BBC

Rates of new HIV infections are rising in many countries such as China, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Vietnam.  Increases in new HIV infections are also being seen in some older epidemics and HIV incidence is increasing in countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia.  –UNAIDS


The most dramatic figures are in treatment: The number of people on AIDS medication jumped by 10 times in the last six years, with some 300,000 taking AIDS drugs in 2003 compared to about 3 million in 2007. AIDS drugs have become much cheaper and more available because of a variety of government and private programs.

But millions of others still do not have access to the drugs, and those who do will need to remain on them to stay alive.  –AP

By the end of 2007, nearly 3 million people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving ARV treatment – double the number being reached a year before – but still only about 30 percent of those estimated to be in need of the drugs.

“The intensity of the epidemic … means we’re far away from realising our goal for universal access by 2010,” said Mataka. “For every person put on treatment, more get infected; we cannot sustain a successful response if we do not get on top of prevention.”  –IRIN/PlusNews

HIV/AIDS in Africa

Nine countries in southern Africa are bearing the brunt of the AIDS crisis, accounting for one-third of global infections.  –IRIN/PlusNews

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa including South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland, remain the center of the AIDS epidemic. The region has about 67 percent of all people infected with HIV and 72 percent of all AIDS deaths.  –AP

“Where there’s clear and strong commitment, and a mobilisation of national and international resources, African states can demonstrate world leadership in their response around AIDS,” [Mark Stirling, director of UNAIDS for Eastern and Southern Africa] said.  –IRIN/PlusNews

HIV/AIDS among women

Six out of ten of those living with HIV in Africa are women.  –BBC

The data shows that young women in many African countries are much more at risk of infection than young men. In South Africa, for example, women accounted for 90 percent of new infections among people aged 15 to 24.  […]

“Unless we can reverse these trends, unless we can empower women and recognise women’s human rights and deal with gender-based violence, we are unlikely to make significant progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS,” said [Elizabeth Mataka, the UN special envoy on AIDS].

Reducing women’s vulnerability to HIV would have to include tackling social norms, such as inter-generational sex and tolerance of male promiscuity, Mataka noted. “I think the time has come for us to say, ‘yes, culture is what defines us’, but if culture is killing us, then we need to be bold enough to say that.”  –IRIN/PlusNews

Looking to the future

“Respoinding to AIDS is an important Millennium Development Goal which also has a direct impact on meeting the other Goals by 2015,” said UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis.  “The progress we make in addressing AIDS will contribute to our efforts to reducing poverty and child mortality, and to improving nutrition and maternal health.  At the same time, progress towards the other Goals, such as tackling gender inequality and promoting education, is required if we are to halt and reverse the spread of AIDS.”  –IRIN/PlusNews

The UNAids report stresses that the fight against HIV requires sustained long-term financing.

It warns that as more people go on treatment and live longer, budgets for HIV will have to increase over the next few decades.  –BBC

[T]he report — based on government data from 147 countries — warned there could be future waves of infection. The agency said it would be difficult to predict whether the AIDS epidemic might spike again.

Experts said it’s too early to stop worrying about AIDS.

”I’m not sure we will ever get to a point where we can say this is not a public health problem,” said James Chin, a clinical professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley.  –AP

“The scaling up of the AIDS response towards universal access must be based on four key values — a rights-based approach, multisectoralism, results for people, and community engagement.  These are not negotiable,” said Dr Piot.  –UNAIDS


~ by h.e.g. on July 31, 2008.

4 Responses to “UNAIDS releases new stats on HIV/AIDS worldwide”

  1. Being newly infected am still trying to understand the condition and wish to volunteer in all activities,that shall contribute to breaking the silence.

  2. Can you start linking to the source pages for your posts?

    • Dear readers,

      I actually talked to David about this, and we realized the problem was that he wasn’t seeing the color difference between regular and linked text. I find that issue occasionally frustrating myself, but unfortunately text color can’t be changed using the wordpress layout I have. If you’re having trouble seeing links, try slightly adjusting the angle of your monitor (especially if you’re on a laptop).

      Hope this isn’t bothering too many people! Feel free to leave a comment if you’re ever experiencing technical difficulties on the site, and I’ll do my best to help.

  3. Wonderful information! Thanx!

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