Medical Research Charities > News > UNAIDS announces nearly 21 million people living with HIV now on treatment (Press Release)

UNAIDS announces nearly 21 million people living with HIV now on treatment (Press Release)

December 1st is World AIDS Day. Read below for updates on the progress being made on HIV treatment, from unaids.org.

New report from UNAIDS highlights the right to health as the key to ending AIDS

CAPE TOWN/GENEVA, 20 November 2017—Remarkable progress is being made on HIV treatment. Ahead of World AIDS Day, UNAIDS has launched a new report showing that access to treatment has risen significantly. In 2000, just 685 000 people living with HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy. By June 2017, around 20.9 million people had access to the life-saving medicines. Such a dramatic scale-up could not have happened without the courage and determination of people living with HIV demanding and claiming their rights, backed up by steady, strong leadership and financial commitment.

“Many people do not remember that in 2000 there were only 90 people in South Africa on treatment,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, speaking in Khayelitsha, South Africa. “Today, South Africa has the biggest life-saving treatment programme in the world, with more than 4 million people on treatment. This is the kind of acceleration we need to encourage, sustain and replicate.”

The rise in the number of people on treatment is keeping more people living with HIV alive and well. Scientific research has also shown that a person living with HIV who is adhering to an effective regime of antiretroviral therapy is up to 97% less likely to transmit HIV. As treatment access has been scaled up for pregnant women living with HIV, new HIV infections among children have been rapidly reduced. From 2010 to 2016, new HIV infections among children were reduced by 56% in eastern and southern Africa, the region most affected by HIV, and by 47% globally.

“In 2001, the first person in Khayelitsha started HIV treatment. Today, there are almost 42 000 people on treatment here. The success of Khayelitsha’s treatment programme is a microcosm of the massive success of South Africa’s HIV programme,” said Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, South Africa.

The challenges now are to ensure that the 15.8 million people in need of treatment—based on the number of people living with HIV at the end of 2016—can access the medicines and to put HIV prevention back at the top of public health programming, particularly in the countries in which new HIV infections are rising.

The new report from UNAIDS, Right to health, highlights that the people most marginalized in society and most affected by HIV are still facing major challenges in accessing the health and social services they urgently need. However, the report also gives innovative examples of how marginalized communities are responding.

Click here to read the full press release on unaids.org.