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HIV/AIDS global pandemic

Up to a total of 1.8 million people infected with HIV developed AIDS, which means 5.3% fewer than in 2016, while the number of deaths due to the disease fell 5% to 940,000, according to the estimates of UNAIDS in their annual report on the evolution of the pandemic (see HIV/AIDS latest statics) The UN programmed to combat AIDS says that new  HIV prevalence  have dropped by 47% since the peak was reached in 1996, while the number of deaths has fallen by more than 51% since their highest point in 2004.

Antiretroviral treatment coverage has expanded, so that at the end of 2017, 21.7 million people worldwide had received it, a figure that is five and a half times higher than a decade ago but remains insufficient.

Seventy-five percent of those living with HIV know their status and, among these, 79% receive this type of treatment, resulting in viral load suppression in 80% of them. That is, of the total number of people infected (36.9 million at the end of 2017, 600,000 more than one year earlier), 57% are receiving these treatments and 47% have suppressed viral load.

The increased availability of these medicines translated into a 34% reduction in the number of deaths due to AIDS-related diseases between 2010 and 2017.

In the case of southern and eastern Africa, where 53% of the world population has HIV, the decline in mortality during those seven years – 2010 to 2017 – was 42% and the decline in new infections, 30%.

However, in contrast to these promising figures, in the Middle East, North Africa, eastern Europe and central Asia, the number of new infections (HIV prevalence) has almost doubled since 2000 due to deficiencies of primary prevention programs. This explains why, at world level, the number of new infections since 2010 has only fallen by 18%, far from the 2016 target of 75% that the UN General Assembly hoped to reach in 2020 and in the long term, in the hope that the pandemic would no longer be a world health threat in 2030.

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International fight against HIV/AIDS global pandemic

With respect to international funds available to fund the fight against AIDS in poor countries, last year they increased by 8% to represent 20.6 billion dollars, which means that 80% of the target for 2020 has been reached. However, UNAIDS warns that this optimistic trend could be cut short, since in 2017, “there were no significant new commitments” by donors, with fears that the money available could decrease.

UNAIDS estimates that 26.2 billion dollars will be needed for the AIDS response in 2020 in low- and middle-income countries, and 23.9 billion dollars in 2030.

Neglect suffered by some key groups

UNAIDS are also concerned about the neglect suffered by some key groups due to prevalence of the disease, especially men who have homosexual relationships (the likelihood of acquiring HIV is 28 times higher than that of men in heterosexual relationships), people who inject drugs (22 times higher risk) or sex workers (13 times higher). Last year, these risk groups and their partners accounted for around 40% of new infections.

Since the start of the epidemic more than 35 years ago, UN experts calculate that 78 million people have acquired the infection and 35 million have died due to AIDS-related diseases.

Spain is witnessing an increase in the prevalence of HIV

In Spain, as Dr Santiago Moreno, head of the Infectious Diseases department at Hospital Ramón y Cajal in Madrid explains, we are witnessing an increase in the prevalence of HIV, which is currently 0.4%. The total figure is around 160,000 people affected, 18% of whom do not know that they are HIV positive. “Occult HIV infection is the portion of people who are infected and do not know it, hence it is called the undiagnosed portion or occult infection,” says Dr. Moreno.

Unaids is also making an international campaign