Geneva, 21 November 2006 – The global AIDS epidemic continues to grow and there in concerning evidence that some countries are seeing a resurgence in new HIV infection rates which were previously stable or declining. b_111_93_16777215_00_images_content_news_811.jpg Geneva, 21 November 2006 – The global AIDS epidemic continues to grow and there in concerning evidence that some countries are seeing a resurgence in new HIV infection rates which were previously stable or declining.
Geneva, 21 November 2006 – The global AIDS epidemic continues to grow and there inconcerning evidence that some countries are seeing a resurgence in new HIV infection rateswhich were previously stable or declining. However, declines in infection rates are also beingobserved in some countries, as well as positive trends in young people's sexual behaviours.
According to the latest figures published today in the UNAIDS/WHO 2006 AIDS Epidemic Update, an estimated 39.5 million people are living with HIV. There were 4.3 million newinfections in 2006 with 2.8 million (65%) of these occurring in sub-Saharan Africa andimportant increases inEastern Europe and Central Asia, where there are some indicationsthat infection rates have risen by more than 50% since 2004. In 2006, 2.9 million people diedof AIDS-related illnesses.New data suggest that where HIV prevention programmes have not been sustained and/oradapted as epidemics have changed—infection rates in some countries are staying thesame or going back up.
In North America and Western Europe, HIV prevention programmes have often not beensustained and the number of new infections has remained the same. Similarly in low- andmiddle-income countries, there are only a few examples of countries that have actually reduced newinfections. And some countries that had showed earlier successes in reducingnew infections, such as Uganda,have either slowed or are now experiencing increasinginfection rates.
“This is worrying—as we know increasedHIV prevention programmes in these countries have shown progress in the past—Uganda being a prime example. This means thatcountries are not moving at the same speed as their epidemics,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot. “We need to greatly intensify life-saving prevention efforts while weexpand HIV treatment programmes.”
HIV prevention works but needs to be focused and sustained
New data from the report show that increased HIV prevention programmes that are focused and adapted to reach those most at risk of HIV infection are making inroads.Positive trends in young people's sexual behaviours—increased use of condoms, delay ofsexual debut, and fewer sexual partners—have taken place over the past decade in manycountries with generalized epidemics. Declines in HIV prevalence among young people between 2000 and 2005 are evident in Botswana, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
In other countries, even limited resources are showing high returns when investments arefocused on the needs of people most likely to be exposed to HIV. In China, there are someexamples of focused programmes for sex workers that have seen marked increases in condom use and decreases in rates of sexually transmitted infections, and programmes withinjecting drug users are also showing progress in some regions. And in Portugal, HIV diagnoses among drug injectors were almost one third (31%) lower in 2005, compared with2001, following the implementation of special prevention programmes focused on HIV anddrug use.
Addressing the challenges: Know your epidemic
In many countries, HIV prevention programmes are not reaching the people most at risk ofinfection, such as young people, women and girls, men who have sex with men, sex workersand their clients, injecting drug users, and ethnic and cultural minorities. The report outlines how the issue of women and girls within the AIDS epidemic needs continued and increasedattention. In sub-Saharan Africa for example, women continue to bemore likely than men tobe infected with HIV and in most countries in the region they are also more likely to be the ones caring for people infected with HIV.
According to the report, there is increasing evidence of HIV outbreaks among men who havesex with men in Cambodia, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Viet Nam as well asacross Latin America but most national AIDS programmes fail to address the specific needs of these people. New data also show that HIV prevention programmes are failing to addressthe overlap between injecting drug use and sex work within the epidemics of Latin America,Eastern Europe and particularly Asia."It is imperative that we continue to increase investment in both HIV prevention andtreatment services to reduce unnecessary deaths and illness from this disease,” said WHOActing Director-General, Dr Anders Nordström. “In sub-Saharan Africa, the worst affectedregion, life expectancy at birth is now just 47 years, which is 30 years less than most highincomecountries."
The AIDS Epidemic Update underlines how weak HIV surveillance in several regionsincluding Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and North Africa often means thatpeople at highest risk—men who have sex with men, sex workers, and injecting drugusers—are not adequately reached through HIV prevention and treatment strategiesbecause not enough is known about their particular situations and realities.The report also highlights that levels of knowledge of safe sex and HIV remain low in manycountries, as well as perception of personal risk. Even in countries where the epidemic has avery high impact, such as Swaziland and South Africa, a large proportion of the populationdo not believe they are at risk of becoming infected.
“Knowing your epidemic and understanding the drivers of the epidemic such as inequalitybetween men and women and homophobia is absolutely fundamental to the long-termresponse to AIDS. Action must not only be increaseddramatically, but must also bestrategic, focused and sustainable to ensure that the money reaches those who need inmost,” said Dr Piot.
The annual AIDS Epidemic Update reports on the latest developments in the global AIDS
epidemic. With maps and regional estimates, the 2006 edition provides the most recent
estimates on the epidemic’s scope and human toll and explores new trends in the epidemic’s
evolution. The report is available at
UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, brings together the efforts andresources of ten UNsystem organizations to the global AIDS response. Cosponsors includeUNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the WorldBank. Based in Geneva, the UNAIDS Secretariat works on the ground in more than 75countries worldwide.As the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, the World HealthOrganization (WHO) takes the lead within the UN system in the global health sectorresponse to HIV/AIDS. WHO provides technical, evidence-based support to Member Statesto helpstrengthen health systems to provide a comprehensive and sustainable response toHIV/AIDS includingtreatment, care, support and prevention services through the healthsector.
Yasmine Topor | UNAIDS Geneva | +41 22 791 3501 |
Iqbal Nandra | WHO Geneva | + 41 22 791 5589 |
Full version of the 2006 AIDS Epidemic Update find here
View photo gallery from the 2006 AIDS Epidemic Update launch here