World AIDS Day and AIDS Investment

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It is thought that the number of people currently living with HIV is around 34 million. Interestingly, the greatest improvement, a 20% rise in people receiving treatment, was seen in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is estimated that around half of those eligible to receive treatment are now receiving it. This has also helped to reduce the numbers of newly reported infections as those undergoing care are less likely to infect others.

In 2010 approximately 1.8 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses but this was down from 2.2 million in 2005. It is fantastic to see that despite an ongoing economic crisis in the Western World, the treatment of those infected has not been cut and so we continue to see improvements.

The charity Medecins Sans Frontieres have urged governments to continue with their funding. Tido von Schoen-Angerer has stated that 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 is no money to make it happen.

The House of Lords Select Committee into HIV and AIDS produced a report in 2011[1] which noted that despite the growing epidemic and increasing numbers of people receiving treatment the awareness of HIV and AIDS in Britain has fallen below the public radar. Wider access to HIV testing was one of the measures suggested by this report but funding cuts that were announced in 2010 are likely to impact on the provision of such preventative services.

It is interesting to also note that the number of incidences of HIV resulting from heterosexual relationships is increasing in the UK and so the number of women with HIV is increasing. In 1994 statistics show that 7 men were infected for every 1 woman but in 2010 this had dramatically reduced to 2 men to 1 woman.

We cannot be complacent about the presence of HIV in society. Arguably HIV prevention campaigns are not as prevalent as they were 15 years ago but this does not mean the risk has been removed. That is why campaigns such a World AIDS Day are so important in bringing these issues into the public arena.

World AIDS Day last year was on 1 December 2011. It is a great way for us all to show our support for such a valuable cause. The International HIV/Aids Alliance have stated that for bigger and better impact though, we must not be complacent. There is still much more to do. Indeed without treatment and education programmes, we would not continue to see a decrease in those affected.

For further information please see the BBC News article. To view to UNAids 2011 report, please visit the UNAids website.

[1] Select Committee on HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom (2011, July) 'No vaccine, no cure: HIV and AIDS in the United Kingdom

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