Fight against AIDS has stalled - UN

  • 13/07/2016
Michel Sidibe (Reuters)
Michel Sidibe (Reuters)

The UN AIDS agency has sounded the alarm saying a long-term decline in the number of new HIV infections in adults has stalled and action is needed to prevent a rebound in the global epidemic.

An estimated 1.9 million adults had become infected with HIV every year for at least the past five years.

Globally, some 36.7 million were now infected, the United Nations AIDS agency (UNAIDS) said in a report released on Tuesday.

New HIV infections among adults, defined as over 15 years old, were now rising in Eastern Europe, central Asia, the Caribbean and Middle East and North Africa, the report said.

"We are sounding the alarm," said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS.

"We have a five-year window of opportunity. If we miss this, we will have a rebound in this epidemic, we'll have resistance and we will not be able to control the epidemic and make sure that we end it by 2030," he told a news conference in Geneva.

The epidemic of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that causes AIDS has had a devastating impact since it began some 35 years ago. Since then, 35 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses and an estimated 78 million have become infected with HIV.

Young women aged 15-24 years are at particularly high risk of HIV infection, accounting for 20 percent of new infections among adults globally last year, the report said.

The World Health Organization says all people diagnosed with HIV should have immediate access to antiretroviral AIDS drugs, which hold the virus in check and give patients a good chance of a long and relatively healthy life.