Aids

Over half those with HIV taking AIDS drugs: UN

Report finds global Aids-related deaths nearly halved since 2005, but there's more work to do to combat the disease

About 36.5 million people worldwide are HIV-positive [File: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters]

The "scales have tipped" in the fight against Aids, with more than half of people infected with HIV now getting treatment and Aids-related deaths almost halving since 2005, according to the UN.

In its latest global report on the pandemic, which has killed around 35 million people worldwide, the UNAIDS agency said a record 19.5 million of the 36.5 million people who are HIV-positive are on treatment.

The report also said Aids-related deaths have declined by nearly half since their peak of 1.9 million in 2005.

UNAIDS said there were particularly encouraging signs in Africa, a continent that has been ravaged by the disease.

Eastern and Southern Africa are leading the way, reducing new HIV infections by nearly 30 percent since 2010, the report said. 

Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda and Zimbabwe have cut new infections by 40 percent or more since 2010.

As a result of the progress, more people in what had been some of the worst affected countries, are now living longer. In eastern and southern Africa, for example, average life expectancy increased by nearly 10 years from 2006 to 2016.

"Communities and families are thriving as Aids is being pushed back," UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said on Thursday.

"As we bring the epidemic under control, health outcomes are improving and nations are becoming stronger."

'More work to do' 

The report warned, however, that not all regions are making progress.

In the Middle East and North Africa, and in Eastern Europe and central Asia, Aids-related deaths have risen by 48 percent and 38 percent respectively, it said, mostly because HIV-positive patients have not had access to treatment.

Exceptions within these regions show that "when concerted efforts are made, results happen", the report said, noting that in Algeria, Morocco and Belarus have all significantly increased HIV treatment access rates.

UNAIDS also said that globally there has been significant progress, but "there is still more work to do". 

"Around 30 percent of people living with HIV still do not know their HIV status, 17.1 million people living with HIV do not have access to antiretroviral therapy and more than half of all people living with HIV are not virally suppressed," the agency said. 

It also found that while HIV infections are declining, they are not doing so "at the pace needed to meet global targets". 

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies