New HIV infections fail to drop in a decade

The global rate of new HIV infections has failed to drop significantly in the last 10 years. The number appears to have plateaued around 2.6 million per year since 2005.

A recent analysis published in The Lancet HIV journal shows that the number of new HIV infections peaked around 1997 at roughly 3.3 million, however, after falling by an average of 2.7% each year until 2005, progress has since stalled.

Nonetheless, the number of deaths from HIV/AIDS has fallen steadily since 2005. Increased use of antiretroviral therapy has been a crucial factor in the declining death rate, with 41% of HIV/AIDS sufferers across the world now receiving the life-changing drugs. Also, the vastly improved prevention of mother-to-child transmission is another key success. But the saddening result of the difference between survival and incidence rates is that the number of people living with the disease has been steadily increasing, reaching 38.8 million in 2015.

The global rate of new HIV infections is a vital statistic for measuring success in the battle against this life destroying illness. Its worrying stagnation is in part due to the continued rise of new infections in 74 countries worldwide. HIV aid to developing countries has levelled off since 2010 and a reduced perception of risk in some areas has led to an increase in unprotected sex.

Global targets to fight HIV appear to have been neglected somewhat. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 aim to end AIDS by 2030 and the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets look very challenging indeed. Governments and international agencies must step up their efforts if they wish to eradicate AIDS in the next 15 years.

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