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UN achieves HIV treatment target 9 months early

On track to end AIDS epidemic by 2030 as nations conquer ‘conspiracy of silence’ on HIV

Louise Prime

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to get life-saving HIV treatment to 15 million people by the end of 2015 has been achieved 9 months ahead of schedule, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) announced this morning. It said in its latest report that, “against incredible odds”, infection need no longer be a death sentence, and the world is now on track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

UNAIDS’ report How AIDS changed everything describes how huge rises in new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths were halted and reversed. It said when the MDGs were established 15 years ago, the idea of meeting the 15 million target was deemed impossible – yet this goal was achieved in March. Since 2000, new HIV infections have fallen by 35% and AIDS-related deaths by 41%, and the global response to HIV has averted 30 million new HIV infections and 7.8 million AIDS-related deaths. In addition, the world is on track to meet the investment target of US$22bn for the AIDS response by 2015.

UNAIDS explained that part of the reason for the success of the campaign has been countries’ willingness to tackle head-on the stigma of HIV infection, as well as a ‘rallying’ of far-sighted global leadership. Its executive director Michel Sidibé said: “Fifteen years ago there was a conspiracy of silence. AIDS was a disease of the ‘others’ and treatment was for the rich and not for the poor. We proved them wrong, and today we have 15 million people on treatment – 15 million success stories.”

UNAIDS also noted out that in 2000, when this MDG was set, AIDS was a death sentence – HIV-infected people had only a few years to live, and almost all children born with the infection died before the age of 5 years. Yet the pace of antiretroviral therapy scale-up increased, and by 2005, AIDS-related deaths began to reverse, falling by 41% from 2005 to 2014.

UNAIDS reported on specific lessons to take forward into the SDGs. It said that, with concerted action, investment and streamlined programmes, the world is set for a five-year sprint on an irreversible path to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon said: “The world has delivered on halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic. Now we must commit to ending the AIDS epidemic as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

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