Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 19 Jul 2016 Ending AIDS a distan ...

Ending AIDS a distant dream as pace of HIV infections worry researchers

Published Jul 19, 2016, 6:38 pm IST
Updated Jul 19, 2016, 7:44 pm IST
Research by Global Burden of Disease says HIV infections have increased in between 2005-2015 in 74 countries.
Experts estimate that 38·8 million people were living with HIV in 2015. (Photo: AP)
 Experts estimate that 38·8 million people were living with HIV in 2015. (Photo: AP)

Here is some bad news. The ambitious target to end AIDS by 2030 seems like a distant dream, if figures are to be believed. According to a new research, while the global number of new cases continue to decline, the pace has greatly slowed.

Globally, new infections have fallen by only an average of 0.7% per year between 2005 and 2015, compared to the 2.7% drop per year between 1997 and 2005. The only good news is that AIDS deaths are falling in most countries worldwide. In total, approximately 1.2 million people died from HIV in 2015, down from a peak of 1.8 million in 2005.


As per the research from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) collaborative network revealed that over the past 10 years, rates of new HIV infections have increased between 2005-2015 in 74 countries, including Egypt, Pakistan, Kenya, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mexico, and Russia. Published in the reputed journal, The Lancet HIV, the new research - which in contrast to the recent report by the UNAIDS was released at the International AIDS Conference in Durban on Tuesday.

The study is based on findings from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Experts estimate that 38·8 million people were living with HIV in 2015, an increase of almost 10 million compared with the GBD 2013 estimate of 29·2 million.


The investigators also estimate that 2·5 million people were newly infected with HIV in 2015, an increase of 40% compared with the 2013 estimate of 1·8 million.

“If this trend of stubbornly high new infections continues, there will be significant challenges in meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal for the world to witness the end of AIDS in less than 15 years,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray.

“Everyone in population health – researchers, policymakers, practitioners, pharmaceutical companies, advocates, and others – needs to understand that even if more people are living with HIV, we cannot end AIDS without stopping new infections.”


Associate Professor Dr. Haidong Wang, the lead author on the study said that even with the improvements, success is still far away from the ambitious 90-90- 90 goals set by the global community for the year 2020. Those goals aim for 90% of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 90% of people diagnosed with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy, and 90% of people receiving antiretroviral therapy experiencing viral suppression”.

 Interestingly, experts found use of ART is different between men and women. On average, global ART use is 10% higher among women living with HIV, and in some sub-Saharan nations in 2015, it is 50% higher.


Experts also found that women tend to die at younger ages from HIV than men, likely due to age-disparate relationships in which men have sex with younger women.  Ironically, in Eastern European and South Asian nations, the percentage of men using ART is as much as 50% higher than women.

Professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical said “This study shows that the AIDS epidemic is not over by any means and that HIV/AIDS remains one of the biggest public health threats of our time,” Professor Piot said. “The continuing high rate of over 2 million new HIV infections represents a collective failure which must be addressed through intensified prevention efforts and continued investment in HIV vaccine research.”


“The Global Burden of Disease HIV study provides critical health information to help shape and support national and global decision-making,” said Peter Hayward, editor of The Lancet HIV.

The results of IHME’s study underscore the need for more effective efforts to prevent new infections, as well as additional funding for these efforts. This analysis shows that development assistance for health (DAH) dedicated to HIV/AIDS grew fastest between 2000 and 2009, yet such funding has stagnated since 2010. According to Financing Global Health 2015, a report published in April by IHME annual funding globally for HIV/AIDS peaked at US$11.2 billion in 2013, but dropped to US$10.8 billion in 2015.


With slowdown in the decline of new infections and in funding for HIV/AIDS, it will be challenging to achieve the goal set by the global community to end AIDS by 2030, the report concluded.