“I think that 2030 is a viable target to say that we have reached the end of the epidemic,” said Luis Loures, a deputy executive director of UNAIDS, the UN agency leading the fight against HIV/AIDS. “HIV will continue existing as a case here or there but not at the epidemic level we have today.”
According to AFP, Loures was in Panama last week to to discuss AIDS strategy with UN agencies in Latin America. With three million new HIV infections and 1.7 million people deaths each year from complications due to AIDS, the epidemic is still very much an issue at hand. But Loures is quick to trumpet the progress made in treating the disease and controlling infection.
Two decades ago the average annual cost of treatment per person with HIV was $19,000 while today it is $150 thanks to generic drugs. Moreover, people with HIV are getting treatment earlier, which retards the disease’s development. According to UNAIDS, the annual incidence of new infections has fallen 20 percent over the past decade, and in 25 countries, including 13 in sub-Saharan Africa, it has fallen by 50 percent. Over the past two years, the number of people who have obtained treatment for HIV has increased by 60 percent.
Loures stressed the importance of reaching “the most vulnerable groups” like gay men, sex workers and drug users who often do not seek treatment for fear of being stigmatized or criminally prosecuted. “If we do not succeed in controlling the epidemic among these groups,” Loures warned, “AIDS will stay with us.”
So you heard the man, wrap it up, kids!