More than half of all people infected with HIV are now using drugs to treat the virus, the United Nations revealed in a report released on Thursday, July 20.
Strides In Battle Against HIV And AIDS
The U.N. AIDS agency said that deaths related to AIDS are also now close to half of the 2005 number albeit the figures are estimates and not based on actual counts.
The report released in Paris, where an AIDS meeting will be held this weekend, is a welcome news amid the global AIDS epidemic that has so far killed about 35 million over the past four decades.
The report "Ending AIDS: Progress towards the 90-90-90 targets" says that of the 36.7 million people with HIV, 19.5 million had access to treatment last year. AIDS-related deaths also dropped from 1.9 million in 2005 to 1 million in 2016.
30 Million HIV-Infected People Could Be Getting Treatment By 2020
Michel Sidibé, Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Executive Director, said that if this trend continues, the world will be on track to reach the target of 30 million people with HIV getting treatment by the year 2020.
"We are on track to double that number to 30 million and meet the 2020 target," said Sidibé. "We will continue to scale up to reach everyone in need and honor our commitment of leaving no one behind."
The report also showed that more than 70 percent of people with HIV are aware of their status, and 77 percent of them are accessing treatment.
More Work Needs To Be Done
Still, the numbers suggest there is still more work that needs to be done. About 30 percent of people with AIDS are not aware of their HIV status, 17. 1 million of people with HIV do not have access to antiretroviral therapy, and more than half of HIV-infected people are not virally suppressed.
Experts said that the billions that were spent for battling the AIDS epidemic in the past two decades should have had more impressive results.
"When you think about the money that's been spent on AIDS, it could have been better," said Sophie Harman, of Queen Mary University in London.
Harman said that the real test will be in five or 10 years' time when the funding goes down, citing that some countries may not be capable of sustaining UN-funded AIDS programs on their own.
The United States alone is known to have 1.2 million people infected with HIV.