AIDS – A New Hope after 40 years

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day – Ending AIDS epidemic by 2030 is now possible

Editorial by Montse Rafel – In its latest report issued on November 18, the UN agency responsible for coordinating the global responses to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, UNAIDS, announced very promising news: the world has managed to bend the curve of the epidemic and continues to progress towards the goal of zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination. The number of people with access to life-saving antiretroviral (ARV) therapy is higher than ever, while the number of new infections continues to decline. (33% decrease since 2001)

As UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé stresses it, the world has now the means to control the epidemic, a goal deemed achievable by 2030 according to the UN. The international community has managed to mobilize unprecedented financial and technical means; available and necessary treatments are available: there is therefore a historic opportunity to bring the pandemic under control. However, even though the numbers are encouraging, there are still some 2.3 million people newly-infected with HIV every year and more than 35 million people are living with HIV worldwide.

That is why the international community must finish the job and meet the 90-90-90 target. By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status; 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and; 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

This is an ambitious target but it is possible. it involves implementing efficient responses to each of its different levels. Therefore, in anticipation of a vaccine that for the moment seems to be out of reach, we must strengthen prevention messages, in particular those addressing young people, in order to remind that AIDS si still a disease that cannot be cured. 

We must also channel all our efforts into reducing new infections by reinforcing strategies that  have proven successful, in particular in preventing sexual contaminations. The best known of these methods is the use of condoms, but we also have to develop male circumcision, which reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by 60% or the use of ARV-based microbicide gel which represents one of the few tools that empower women to protect themselves and control the spread of the virus.

In order to encourage people to know their HIV status, it is necessary to facilitate access to free and anonymous testing services and to fight all forms of marginalization and exclusion: the stigma that still surrounds AIDS continues to fuel rejection and ostracism in many countries. In terms of access to treatment, immense progress has been made, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, but we must continue in this direction and intensify our efforts.

Researchers have  shown that a single dollar invested in the responses against AIDS today equals fifteen dollars saved later in terms of people’s treatment and follow-up, etc. The fight against the AIDS pandemic is profitable, that’s a fact. But after forty years of pandemic and more than thirty-six million dead, it is time to put an end to this global threat; it's time to meet this challenge and control the disease once and for all, it is our moral duty towards mankind.

2013 Fact Sheet

  • 35 million people are living with HIV
  • 78 million people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic
  • 2.1 million people became newly infected, down from 3.4 million in 2001
  • New infections among children have declined by 58% since 2001
  • AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 35% since the peak in 2005
  • 13.6 million people had access to ARV therapy, 38 per cent of all adults and 24% of all children living with HIV/AIDS
  • TB-related deaths in people living with HIV have fallen by 33% since 2004

Read complete UNAIDS fact sheet