Tag Archives: Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

Together We Will End AIDS

Entitled Together we will end AIDS, the new UNAIDS report contains the latest data on numbers of new HIV infections, numbers of people receiving antiretroviral treatment, AIDS-related deaths and HIV among children. It highlights new scientific opportunities and social progress which are bringing the world closer to UNAIDS vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

The report also gives an overview of international and domestic HIV investments and the need for greater value for money and sustainability.

Calling for global solidarity and shared responsibility, the UNAIDS report contains commentaries from global and community leaders as well as people living with and affected by HIV.

Download here

Link to UNAIDS Campaign 

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Nobel laureate, discoverer of HIV, says a cure for HIV is in sight!

Photo: REUTERS/Bob Strong
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi is the Nobel laureate who co-discovered the HIV virus.

The Nobel laureate who helped to discover HIV says a cure for AIDS is in sight following recent discoveries, in an interview with AFP ahead of AIDS 2012, the global conference for HIV.

Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2008 as part of a team that discovered the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), said scientific research was zeroing in on a cure for the illness.

She cited a patient in Berlin who appears to have been cured through a bone marrow transplant, “which proves that finding a way of eliminating the virus from the body is something that is realistic.”

Interested in that story? – it’s fascinating, here’s the links :

Other sources of optimism are the small minority of patients — less than 0.3 percent — who exhibit no symptoms of the virus without ever receiving treatment; and a small group in France who received antiretroviral drugs and now live without treatment or symptoms, Barre-Sinoussi said.

“There is hope… but don’t ask me for a date because we do not know.”

She also said that it would be possible “in principle” to eliminate the AIDS pandemic by 2050, if barriers to drug access could be eliminated.

The main barriers there were not scientific but political, economic and social, she said: the problem was lack of access to testing and drugs in poor and rural areas, as well as the stigma around the virus, which undermines early detection and treatment.

Some 25,000 people — including celebrities, scientists and HIV sufferers — are expected in the US capital on Sunday to call for more strident global action to address the three-decade AIDS epidemic.

Deaths and infections are down in the parts of the world most ravaged by the disease, while the number of people on treatment has risen 20 percent from 2010 to 2011, reaching eight million people in needy countries.

However this is only about half the people who should be on treatment worldwide, suggesting much more remains to be done.

More than 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV, a higher number than ever before, and around 30 million have died from AIDS-related causes since the disease first emerged in the 1980s, according to UNAIDS.

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A History of HIV & AIDS – 1997

As we prepare to enter our 25th year, we are reflecting on the global HIVevents from the last three decades.  HIV has swept across the globe touching communities on every continent.  Here’s an introduction to some of the key moments in the early global history of HIV.  Catch up on the story using the ‘Recent Posts’ link to the right.

For the first time since the AIDS epidemic became visible in 1981, the number of deaths from AIDS had dropped substantially in the developed world due to the advances of anti HIV medicine and combination therapy.  Within two years, death rates due to AIDS will have plummeted in the developed world. (See 1996 for why)

In New York City the decline was even more dramatic, with the number of people dying from AIDS falling by about 50 per cent compared to the previous year. The number of babies being born HIV positive had also declined dramatically.

In May, President Clinton set a target for the USA to find an AIDS vaccine within ten years.

In August UNAIDS estimated HIV/AIDS cases in India, Myanmar (Burma), Bangladesh and Nepal at 3 million, 350,000, 20,000, and 15,000 respectively.

Worldwide, 1 in 100 adults in the 15-49 age group were thought to be infected with HIV, and only 1 in 10 infected people were aware of their infection. It was estimated that by the year 2000 the number of people living with HIV/AIDS would have grown to 40 million.

September 2, “The most recent estimate of the number of Americans infected (with HIV), 750,000, is only half the total that government officials used to cite over a decade ago, at a time when experts believed that as many as 1.5 million people carried the virus.” article in the Washington Post.

Based on the Bangui definition the WHO’s cumulative number of reported AIDS cases from 1980 through 1997 for all of Africa is 620,000. For comparison, the cumulative total of AIDS cases in the USA through 1997 is 641,087.

December 7, “French President Jacques Chirac addressed Africa’s top AIDS conference and called on the world’s richest nations to create an AIDS therapy support fund to help Africa. According to Chirac, Africa struggles to care for two-thirds of the world’s persons with AIDS without the benefit of expensive AIDS therapies. Chirac invited other countries, especially European nations, to create a fund that would help increase the number of AIDS studies and experiments. AIDS workers welcomed Chirac’s speech and said they hoped France would promote the idea to the Group of Eight summit of the world’s richest nations.”

At the end of the year, UNAIDS reported that worldwide the HIV epidemic was far worse than had previously been thought. More accurate estimates suggested that 30 million people were infected with HIV. The previous year’s estimate had been 22 million infected people with an estimated 3.2 million cases of new HIV infections.

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The quest for a HIV vaccine

Credit: UNAIDS

There is broad scientific consensus that getting to zero new HIV infections will require an HIV vaccine. Modelling shows that even a partially effective HIV vaccine can save many lives and dollars over time.

Although a vaccine to prevent HIV could be the tool to quicken the pace to reach the end of AIDS, the quest for an effective vaccine has until now proved elusive. The very nature and variety of the human immunodeficiency virus has meant that it has resisted most attempts to quell its spread and scientists and vaccinologists the world over are focusing efforts on finding solutions.

Exciting recent developments in HIV vaccine research are instilling hope around finding an effective vaccine. In 2009, results from a trial in Thailand—RV144—showed a 31.2% vaccine efficacy in preventing HIV infections. Although only modestly protective, the results instilled new hope that an HIV vaccine could be found and made available for populations around the world most in need of a vaccine.

The results represented a significant scientific advance, and were the first demonstration that a vaccine can prevent HIV infection in a general adult population. It was a discovery of great importance and has been followed by more encouraging data in the last couple of years.

Data presented in the past year has been presented on the protective immune responses that were stimulated by the Thai vaccine trial.  Trials are now planned to see if an RV144-like regimen will protect against a strain of HIV infection found in South Africa and against HIV acquisition by people at higher risk of exposure, specifically men who have sex with men.

UNAIDS and the US Centers for Disease Control worked closely with modelling teams to estimate the impact of the RV144 regimen in different countries and with different populations and found that 10% of infections could be prevented if the same 31% efficacy was found in people who receive the vaccine. This shows that a modestly effective HIV vaccine could add to the prevention toolbox of partially effective methods, hastening the decline of the HIV epidemic.

These and other advances in HIV vaccine development—including the design of new tools and technologies for vaccine delivery—have boosted optimism in the field about the prospects for the development of a safe and effective AIDS vaccine.

However, early data from the HIV Vaccines and Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group is showing that a downturn in HIV vaccine funding that began in 2008 continued through 2011. The quest for effective HIV vaccines is a long-term investment in both the product (vaccines) and in the people who will develop, produce, market and support them. Investments in research and trials are essential and can bring benefits far beyond the AIDS field.

The need for a vaccine to prevent HIV is clear.  There are in excess of 34 million people living with HIV, and every day more than 7000 people are becoming newly infected with the virus. Although a vaccine may not provide the magic bullet to end the AIDS epidemic, it would provide an additional tool to add to the robust package of HIV prevention options which are now available.

UNAIDS will continue to work with multiple partners––scientific communities, national and international AIDS research agencies, the pharmaceutical industry, private foundations, member states, and affected communities––to push the HIV vaccine agenda forward and ensure that the quest for a safe and effective HIV vaccine continues.

Original Article via UNAids

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International Womens Day!

The 8th March is a day when women throughout the world come together and celebrate life as women, the progress made to advance equality for women and to assess the challenges that remain.

UN Women, in collaboration with UNAIDS, have created a comprehensive online resource to provide up-to-date information on the gender equality dimensions of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The site aims to promote understanding, knowledge sharing, and action on HIV/AIDS as a gender and human rights issue.

While HIV/AIDS is a health issue, the epidemic is a gender issue. Statistics prove that both the spread and impact of HIV/AIDS are not random. HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects women and adolescent girls who are socially, culturally, biologically, and economically more vulnerable.

The figures are alarming: At the end of 2009, slightly more than half of the estimated 33.3  million adults (aged 15-49) living with HIV/AIDS were women and girls. In Sub-Saharan Africa, more women than men are living with HIV, and young women aged 15-24 years are as much as eight times more likely than men to be HIV-positive.

In the Caribbean, approximately 53 per cent of people living with HIV are women. Globally, the incidence of HIV/AIDS among women has risen at a shocking rate. In 1997, 41 per cent of HIV infected adults were women and this figure rose to nearly 52 per cent at the end of 2009. Women’s empowerment is one of the only HIV vaccines available today. By integrating gender equality and human rights components into UN Women’s HIV/AIDS strategies, plans and policies, we hope to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls.

UN Women is committed to addressing underlying factors, such as violence against women, feminized poverty and women’s limited voice in decision-making, to increase access to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs, and stop the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls.

For more information, please visit: http://www.unwomen.org/

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The virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV

With the right programs and financing, the UN and its partners have said that, by 2015, virtually no HIV-positive mother will have to pass along HIV to her newborn — an exciting goal that can be achieved in just a few short years.

But Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) can be a confusing process.  PMTCT isn’t exactly an acronym that rolls off your tongue, and the process by which transmission is prevented is a bit complicated, requiring different paths of treatment and follow-up tailored to the mother and child.

Fortunately, UNAIDS have made a great infographic that details the steps required along the way to ensure that a baby can be born HIV-negative. It works a little like a “choose your own adventure” story — except with far more important, real-world consequences. Try following a few different paths through the infographic, keeping an eye out for the percentages built into the circles. The smaller the percentage, the more the baby is likely to be born HIV-free — a happy ending, indeed!

Source: UNAIDS (Outlook 30, 2011 Report).

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AIDS Related Deaths ‘Down 21% From Peak’ – Says UNAids

Aids-related deaths are at the lowest level since their 2005 peak, down 21%, figures from UNAids suggest.

Globally, the number of new HIV infections in 2010 was 21% down on that peak, seen in 1997, according to UNAids 2011 report.

The organisation says both falls have been fuelled by a major expansion in access to treatment.

Its executive director, Michel Sidibe, said: “We are on the verge of a significant breakthrough.  Even in a very difficult financial crisis, countries are delivering results in the Aids response.  We have seen a massive scale up in access to HIV treatment which has had a dramatic effect on the lives of people everywhere.”

This latest analysis says the number of people living with HIV has reached a record 34 million.  Sub-Saharan Africa has seen the most dramatic improvement, with a 20% rise in people undergoing treatment between 2009 and 2010.

About half of those eligible for treatment are now receiving it.

UNAids estimates 700,000 deaths were averted last year because of better access to treatment.  That has also helped cut new HIV infections, as people undergoing care are less likely to infect others.

In 2010 there were an estimated 2.7m new HIV infections, down from 3.2m in 1997, and 1.8m people died from Aids-related illnesses, down from 2.2m in 2005.

The figures continue the downward trend reported in previous UNAids reports.  The UN agency said: “The number of new HIV infections is 30-50% lower now than it would have been in the absence of universal access to treatment for eligible people living with HIV.”

Some countries have seen particularly striking improvements.

In Namibia, treatment access has reached 90% and condom use rose to 75%, resulting in a 60% drop in new infections by 2010.

UNAids says the full preventive impact of treatment is likely to be seen in the next five years, as more countries improve treatment.

Its report added that even if the Aids epidemic was not over: “The end may be in sight if countries invest smartly.”

The charity Medecins Sans Frontieres urged governments to keep up their funding.

MSF’s Tido von Schoen-Angerer, said: “Never, in more than a decade of treating people living with HIV/Aids, have we been at such a promising moment to really turn this epidemic around.

“Governments in some of the hardest hit countries want to act on the science, seize this moment and reverse the Aids epidemic. But this means nothing if there’s no money to make it happen.”

The International HIV/Aids Alliance said: “We welcome the ongoing commitment of UNAids to changing behaviours, changing social norms and changing laws, alongside efforts to improve access to HIV treatment.

“For bigger and better impact though, we must not be complacent. There is still much more to do.”

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