Academic Leader of Research in UKZN’s School of Nursing and Public Health, Professor Benn Sartorius, is a co-author of a study which has found that 74 countries experienced increases in age-standardised rates of new HIV/AIDS infections between 2005 and 2015.
The study from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) collaborative – which Sartorius is involved in - was published in The Lancet HIV and released during the recent 2016 International AIDS Conference in Durban.
The 74 countries include Egypt, Pakistan, Kenya, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mexico, and Russia.
The announcement comes amidst an ambitious goal that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV should know their HIV status; 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and that 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
The study found that new HIV infections fell by an average of only 0.7% a year between 2005 and 2015, compared to the 2.7% annual drop between 1997 and 2005.
Professor Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and founding Executive Director of UNAIDS, remarked on the paper’s findings: ‘This study shows that the AIDS epidemic is not over by any means and that HIV/AIDS remains one of the biggest public health threats of our time. The continuing high rate of over 2 million new HIV infections represents a collective failure which must be addressed through intensified prevention efforts and continued investment in HIV vaccine research.’
The study also found that more - up to 50% - HIV positive women than HIV positive men were accessing Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa. However, in some Eastern European and South Asian nations, the situation is very different, with 50% more men using ART than women.
Another finding of the study is that women tend to die at younger ages from HIV than men, due likely to age-disparate relationships in which men have sex with younger women. In total, about 1.2 million people died from HIV in 2015, down from a peak of 1.8 million in 2005.
Said Sartorius: ‘Tremendous progress has been made in the global attempt to curb the HIV epidemic. However, of concern are the increases in rates of new infections between 2005 and 2015 in many countries. The new United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Target 3.3, has proposed the end of the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030. If this ambitious goal is to be achieved, momentum has to be increased moving forward.’
* The Global Burden of Disease Study 2015 provides national estimates of levels and trends of HIV/AIDS incidence, prevalence, coverage of antiretroviral therapy (ART), and mortality for 195 countries and territories from 1980 to 2015.