Apart from World AIDS Day, last Friday, 1 December, and perhaps to gather annual data from UNAIDS and a specific Congress, there is almost no talk of a disease that affects 36.7 million people, spreads to 1.8 million every year and kills one million people annually around the world.
Better awareness and longer survival of those affected, thanks to the continuing advance of treatments, have socially lowered the panic of the 1980s. HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of the death in the population aged 25 to 44 years in Spain at the beginning of the 1990s, with almost 6,000 deaths annually compared to the 633 recorded by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics in 2015. Today, thanks to antiretroviral therapies, a 20-year-old patient diagnosed with HIV has a life expectancy greater than 70 years. Moreover, patient quality of life has been improving due to the fewer side effects and simplification of the drug treatments (see HERE).
Are realistic UNAIDS goals to control the epidemic?
The World Health Organization and UNAIDS have set the ambitious goal of ending the AIDS epidemic in 2030. Of the almost 37 million people infected, around 21 million receive treatment, and new infections and related deaths continue to fall in many parts of the world, thanks to the billions of dollars and Euros invested in research, drugs, campaigns and donations. These efforts are far superior to those made, for example, against malaria or tuberculosis, equally as deadly as AIDS, a “perk” of the westernization of the infection. There are currently more than 52 new drugs in the clinical trial phase: 32 are antiviral or antiretroviral, 16 preventive or therapeutic vaccines and 4 gene therapies.
Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS negative figures
Despite so many measures, the UNAIDS goal seems, in any case, somewhat unrealistic.
- Far from dwindling, in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, new HIV infections have increased by 60% since 2010, and AIDS-related deaths by 27%; and in Western and Central Africa, two out of three people still have no access to treatment.
- Furthermore, the lack of fear of HIV, due to the availability of effective therapies, has led to reckless behavior in some areas,
- the fact that resistance to first-line anti-HIV drugs is already close to 10%.
These are worrying signs after a decade in which it seemed possible to control the epidemic (Diario médico)