Monday, 19 August, 2019

UNAIDS says 1.7 mln new HIV infections recorded in 2018

HIV’s genetic code extracted from a nub of tissue adds to evidence of virus’ emergence in humans a century ago In a nub of issue from the 1960s scientists have found more clues of HIV’s emergence
Anna Jefferson | 17 July, 2019, 19:43

South Africa had successfully reduced new HIV infections by more than 40% and AIDS-related deaths by around 40% since 2010, according to the report. Timely use of effective diagnostic tools and medicines to treat HIV/AIDS could prevent most deaths, and yet the annual number of deaths due to AIDS has declined only minimally since 2014, a cause for concern for Médecins Sans Frontières.

More than half of all new HIV infections in 2018 were among sex workers, drug users, men who have sex with men, transgender people, prisoners and the sexual partners of these groups, according to a report by UNAIDS. "The issue on HIV requires a comprehensive approach in the prevention, treatment, and impact alleviation".

Mabuza also links HIV with social injustice, saying that "unless we deal decisively with the challenges of unemployment, poverty, gender-based violence, substance abuse and poor housing among others, we will not be able to heal our society". UNAIDS Executive Director Gunilla Carlsson and David Mabuza, Deputy President of South Africa, introduced the report at a community event in Eshowe, South Africa this month. The figure shows only a 30,000 reduction from the 800,000 deaths recorded in 2017. Tests which provide quick diagnosis of tuberculosis and cryptococcal meningitis, TB-Lam and CrAg LFA, also remain unavailable, particularly in primary healthcare centres where most people go for their healthcare needs.

About 37.9 million people around the world have been diagnosed with HIV, with Southern Africa the hardest-hit part of the world.

The report noted that the worldwide community is still far away from achieving the goal of cutting HIV/AIDS deaths by 50 percent by 2020, to less than 500,000 per year.

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The pace of reducing new HIV infections is slowing and progress in accessing treatment is decreasing, putting United Nations targets to end the Aids epidemic by 2030 in doubt. This resulted in a 41% reduction in new HIV infections among children. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 72% of people living with HIV knew about their HIV status in 2018, but only 53% of them had access to treatment.

While encouraging, Eshowe remains an exception and few other districts, provinces or countries will reach the 90-90-90 targets in 2020.

Countries in West and Central Africa region in particular need acceleration but are facing a shortfall in global funding including for ART treatment scale up. "Preventing, detecting and treating advanced HIV and AIDS, demands more attention and funding, especially in low coverage settings such as West and Central Africa, and in neglected populations.", adds Dr. Van Cutsem.

The report urged the worldwide community to ensure that 30 million people living with HIV had access to treatment through meeting the 90-90-90 target by 2020.

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