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World AIDS Day, December 1st

World AIDS day is approaching, and it is timely for us to reflect on the state of the epidemic. UNAIDS has just produced a new report documenting the scale and scope of the problem, recent successes and failures. While the amount of money dedicated to the problem has increased several fold since 2000, the death total is staggering, and the number of people dying is making AIDS one of the top three killer maladies in the world, possibly killing as many as 117 million people by 2030. I’ve participated in a couple of conference calls in the last few days with Mark Dybul, the Bush Administration’s Global Aids Coordinator, and Helen Gayle, head of CARE. While Gayle’s remarks were off the record, I’ll be discussing some of the issues that emerged in Dybul’s discussion.

Here are some of the key stats on the disease from the report:

  • A total of 39.5 million people were living with HIV in 2006 (2.6 million more than in 2004).
  • The number of new infections in 2006 rose to 4.3 million in 2006 (400 000 more than in 2004).
  • Sub-Saharan remains the most affected region in the world. Two thirds of all people living with HIV live in this region––24.7 million people in 2006. Almost three quarters of all adult and child deaths due to AIDS occurred in sub-Saharan Africa––2.1 million of the global 2.9 million deaths due to AIDS.
  • The number of people living with HIV increased in every region in the world in the past two years. The most striking increases have occurred in East Asia and in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where the number of people living with HIV in 2006 was over one fifth (21%) higher than in 2004.
  • Globally and in every region, more adult women (15 years or older) than ever before are now living with HIV. The 17.7 million women living with HIV in 2006 represent an increase of over one million compared with 2004.
  • Access to treatment and care has greatly increased in recent years. Through the expanded provision of antiretroviral treatment, an estimated two million life years were gained since 2002 in low and middle income countries.

Here is what the report had to say about treatment:

  • According to the latest UNAIDS/WHO ‘3 by 5’ data, more than 1.6 million people living with HIV were receiving ARV therapy in low and middle income countries as of June 2006. This represents more than a four fold-increase since December 2003. Overall, antiretroviral therapy coverage in low and middle income countries increased from 7% at the end of 2003 to 24% in June 2006.

Looks like the global community is still short of funds though:

  • In 2005, a total of US$ 8.3 billion was estimated to be available for AIDS funding; this figure is estimated to rise to US$ 8.9 billion in 2006 and US$ 10 billion in 2007. But it falls short of what is needed––US$ 14.9 billion in 2006, US$ 18.1 billion in 2007 and US$ 22.1 billion in 2008.
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One Response to “World AIDS Day, December 1st”

  1. The Center for Global Development blog ran an interview with Mead Over, one their own senior fellows, on the 2006 UNAIDS report. Here is what caught his attention:

    Q: Were there any big surprises?

    A: The number of deaths from AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa is reported to have increased from 1.9 million in 2004 to 2.1 million in 2006. This is despite the fact that according to WHO one million people in Africa are now receiving anti-retroviral therapy. Since the one million are presumably among the 2 million people who would have otherwise died, one would expect the number of deaths from AIDS to have declined by almost half, not increased as UNAIDS has reported. Does this suggest that the patients are not receiving the benefits that one would have hoped from their AIDS treatment, and are dying despite treatment? Or is one or more of the numbers mistaken? I’ll be looking to learn more.