Atlanta (CBS ATLANTA) — A new United Nations report claims that the AIDS epidemic could end by 2030.
In the Gap report released Wednesday by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, researchers found that new HIV infections is at its lowest levels this century at 2.1 million, as new HIV infections have fallen by 13 percent over the past three years.
AIDS-related deaths are also at its lowest peak since 2005, declining by 35 percent.
“If we accelerate all HIV scale-up by 2020, we will be on track to end the epidemic by 2030,” Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, said in a press release. “If not, we risk significantly increasing the time it would take – adding a decade, if not more.”
Nearly 13 million people with HIV/AIDS have been able to access antiretroviral therapy globally. Two-point-three million people gained access to the life-saving treatments last year.
Among children, new HIV infections have fallen by 58 percent since 2001 and dropped below 200,000 for the first time in the 21 most-affected African countries.
“There will be no ending AIDS without putting people first, without ensuring that people living with and affected by the epidemic are part of a new movement,” Sidibe said. “Without a people-centered approach, we will not go far in the post 2015-era.”
Despite the number of HIV infections dropping globally, 19 million out of the 35 million infected with the disease do not know they have it.
The UNAIDS report shows that the Central African Republic, Congo, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia and South Sudan are facing the triple threat of high HIV burden, low treatement covereage and little to no decline in new HIV infections.
“Whether you live or die should not depend on access to an HIV test,” Sidibe stated. “Smarter scale-up is needed to close the gap between people who know their HIV status and people who don’t, people who can get services and people who can’t and people who are protected and people who are punished.”
Officials declared that ending the AIDS epidemic is possible even though they acknowledged the number of new infections — more than 2 million last year — was still very high. UNAIDS estimated there were about 35 million people living with HIV last year and in 2012.
The agency also set targets to reduce deaths and new cases by 90 percent by 2030. It previously unveiled a strategy to get to “zero AIDS-related deaths,” which included ensuring all people who need treatment are on it by 2015.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 6 (15.8%) are unaware of their infection. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, particularly young black/African American MSM, are most seriously affected by HIV. By race, blacks/African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV.