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AIDS Epidemic Cure: Disease Could Be Eradicated by 2030, UNAIDS Reports

First Posted: Jul 21, 2014 11:35 AM EDT

Photo : Twitter/ UNAIDS

The AIDS epidemic could be eradicated within our lifetime.

A United Nations AIDS Agency (UNAIDS) study released last week, stated that the AIDS epidemic could be eradicated in less than 20 years from now. In other words, by 2030 there could be a cure for the disease.

According to the UNAIDS study, currently 35 million people globally are living with HIV. The study traces the HIV figures from 2001 to 2013: in 2001 there were 3.4 million reported cases, in 2013 there was a 38 percent decrease in the number of HIV cases to 2.1 million, The Times of India reported. This is good news.

What the UNAIDS report shows is that once people discover their HIV-positive status, they will seek the necessary HIV treatment. In places such as sub-Saharan Africa, which is impacted largely by the virus, almost 90 percent of people who test positive for HIV sought access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), or HIV treatment, The Times of India reported.

Those infected with HIV and are on ART in sub-Saharan Africa have seen 76 percent of them undetectable from the virus. Further good news is that, for every 10 percent increase in ART treatment, there is a one-percent decrease in the number of new infections for people living with HIV, The Times of India reported.

The study highlights the fact that the increased attention and access to ART means that it is working. Last year, an additional 2.3 million people have achieved better access to the medications, bringing the number to 13 million people who are on ART by the end of 2013, The Times of India reported.

While sub-Saharan Africa represents a fraction of the world, there is hope. Within the last past three years, AIDS related deaths have dropped by a fifth, which means 1.5 million people a year are dying from the disease, and countries such as, South Africa and Ethiopia are improving, BBC News reported.

There are other factors as well: better access to treatment and medicines; and a doubling increase of men who opt for circumcisions, which reduce the spread of or contracting HIV, just to name a few. The report adds that more success against the virus have been seen within the last five years, than within the last 23 years, BBC News reported.

With every success however, there are obstacles. Michel Sidibe, the executive director of UNAIDS, says that "If we accelerate all HIV scale-up by 2020, we will be on track to end the epidemic by 2030, if not, we risk significantly increasing the time it would take, adding a decade, if not more," BBC News reported.

As it stands, at least 54 percent of people living with HIV have no idea that they are infected, and 63 percent are not receiving treatment.

According to the report, since 2013, at least 15 countries account for more than 75 percent of 2.1 million new HIV infections, while in almost every global region they are affected more by the epidemic. Three countries in sub-Saharan Africa -- Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda -- are impacted with a 48 percent of all new HIV infections, The Times of India reported.

HIV infections however, are more prevalent and statistically higher, 28 times higher, among people who use intravenous drugs; for sex workers it is 12 times higher; and it appears to be 49 times higher among transgender women, versus the rest of the adult population, The Times of India reported.

"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," Mr Sidibe said. "Without a people-centred approach, we will not go far in the post-2015 era."

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