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Every year, December 1 marks World AIDS Day. To celebrate the event, Global Health Policy at ONE.org issued a new report that shows AIDS fight has reached a “tipping point” for the first time in 30 years . This means there are more people saved through AIDS drugs than people who are reported to have contracted HIV.
The report revealed that the number of people who got infected with HIV didn’t decrease too much over a year. In 2012, there were 2,2 million patients newly infected with AIDS worldwide, while in 2013 the number dropped to only 2.1 million. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of patients who were newly added to AIDS treatment increased from 1.6 million to 2.3 million.
Despite slow progress in fighting the disease, world leaders say this was the beginning of the end for AIDS.
“Despite the good news, we should not take a victory lap yet. We’ve passed the tipping point in the AIDS fight at the global level, but not all countries are there yet, and the gains made can easily stall or unravel,”
Erin Hohlfeder, lead author of the study, said.
The new report also shows the three main threats to worldwide AIDS fight – lack of funds, patients hard to reach and fragility of national health systems.
Every year, there is $3 billion less available for AIDS fight, mostly in poor African countries. These countries aren’t able to provide the necessary money, while the three main contributors –the UK, France and the US – are not always insufficient.
HIV patients hard to reach (diagnose and treat) are those often stigmatized by society. For instance, people who do drugs have a 28 times higher rate of contracting the disease, homosexual men have a 19 times higher rate, sex workers have also 12 times higher rate of getting ill. Additionally, adolescent girls are also a group growing in numbers.
HIV/AIDS fight is also in danger because health infrastructures are not prepared for it. The current Ebola outbreak showed how an epidemic can shake weak health systems or bring them down. So, countries like Ghana although had reached the AIDS tipping point in 2012, a year later they were back from where they started.
The report also recommends a set of solutions to these problems.
Money for HIV fight should have various resources “including more from African domestic budgets”. If money is scarce, progress will be delayed, the report says.
HIV should also be targeted “where it is, not where it is easy to reach”. Therefore, world governments should issue more effective legislation in reaching marginalized groups.
Health systems should be improved to be able to also sustain emergencies such as Ebola or AIDS.
The report also shows there are more than 1,2 million Americans living with AIDS and this rate is increasing with 50,000 more every year becoming a real public health issue.