A cell infected with HIV.

A cell infected with HIV.

NIAID/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Progress, but still much to do, AIDS report finds

Of the estimated 36.9 million HIV-infected people in the world, 70% live in sub-Saharan Africa. Of these, 49% do not know their HIV status and about 57% are not receiving antiretroviral drugs, according to a report released today by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

The report, which arrives in the run-up to World AIDS Day on 1 December, celebrates the progress that has been made in getting antiretrovirals to 15.8 million people by June of 2015. But it also notes how far many countries are from meeting World Health Organization guidelines issued in September, which call for every infected person to receive treatment.

The huge, ongoing push to start all infected people on antiretrovirals emerged from recent evidence that early initiation of treatment benefits the health of infected people, and also makes it extremely unlikely that they will transmit the virus (if they fully suppress their own infection). But in sub-Saharan Africa, the report notes, an estimated 68% of infected people have not suppressed their HIV levels.

Some other statistical highlights from the report:

  • About 36.9 million people globally were living with HIV at the end of 2014. (That is the midpoint within an estimated range of 34.3 million–41.4 million people).
  • 2 million (1.9 million–2.2 million) people became newly infected with HIV by the end of 2014. New HIV infections have fallen by 35% since 2000.
  • 1.2 million (980,000–1.6 million) people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2014.
  • As of June 2015, 15.8 million people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy, up from 13.6 million in June 2014.