The latest UN report on AIDS reveals some positive facts, with infection and mortality rates decreasing, while access to treatment and the effectiveness of these programmes increases. While there are more people living with AIDS, the focus is on the word "living" many of these today being chronic cases instead of critical ones.
The Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2011 (drawn up by UNAIDS) reveals data this year which causes some optimism. While progress needs to be accelerated, infection rates are down, being at the lowest point since 1997 and HIV-related deaths are down while sexual behaviour has changed, meaning that education programmes were successful. In 2010 there were only 2.7 million new infections, compared with around 3.4 million in 1997 and the death rate has fallen sharply since the high of c. 2.3 million in 2005 to c. 1.7 million in 2010.
In 2010, HIV prevalence figures dropped in 21high-prevalence countries, compared with 16 countries in 2009, the following being those with the sharpest falls in HIV prevalence rates: Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Togo and Zimbabwe.
The reduced number of new cases is due to behavioural changes among young people - increased use of condoms, fewer sexual partners, waiting longer to initiate sexual activity. In low and middle-income countries, 700,000 deaths were averted in 2010 by new therapies and it is estimated that since 2005, 2.5 million deaths have been prevented, however donor funding has decreased from 7.6 to 6.9 billion USD.
"We need to move from a short-term, piecemeal approach to a long-term strategic response with matching investment," Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS.
"The world faces a clear choice: maintain current efforts and make incremental progress, or invest smartly and achieve rapid success in the AIDS response," UNAIDS report.
Facts and figures at a glance
Peak of the disease: 1997
New infections 2012: 2.7 million
People living with HIV: 1990: c. 9 million; c. 27 million; 2010 c. 34 million
Sub-Saharan Africa: 68% of people living with AIDS reside in this region
When the leaders of the two great nations were discussing the fate of the world, journalists were analysing their vehicles and airplanes