In honor of Thanksgiving we will be doing a “things we’re grateful for” theme. A bit cliché perhaps, but still fun and season appropriate. The first thing we are grateful for is one that while definitely stemming from a huge ugly rainstorm, has an equally huge silver lining. According to a new UN AIDS program (UNAIDS) report worldwide rates of new HIV infections are dropping, as are rates of AIDS related deaths.
According to a report on dw-world.de the new infections rate dropped to 2.67 million cases last year. This is 21% lower than the rate of new infections in 1997, when the AIDS epidemic was at an all time high. In India the rate dropped 56% since 1996 and in southern Africa, where HIV and AIDS have hit hardest, the rate of new infections dropped by 26%.
On top of that the number of AIDS related deaths dropped from 2.2 million in the mid-200’s to 1.8 million in 2010. According to a Fox News report on the decline UNAIDS director Michel Sidibe has this to say “Even in this time of public finance crises and uncertainty about funding, we’re seeing results. We are seeing more countries than ever before (achieving) significant reductions in new infections and stabilizing their epidemics.” And that it has been a “game changing year.”
According to this same article, one of the primary reasons for this is that more people than ever have been getting the treatments needed to stay healthy. 47% of eligible people in low to middle- income countries are getting treatment and in just one year 1.4 million people were added to the amount of people getting treatment.
These reports come shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the U.S. commitment to provide $60 million in additional funding to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs worldwide. While HIV and AIDS are still at epidemic levels throughout the world, these numbers are indicators that we may be at a precipice in turning towards ending it. So while the underlying issue is still one of tragedy, these new reports provide hope that someday soon we may be able to end the global epidemic and provide real care to all 34 million who are already infected. That is why we are grateful to all the people who donate their time and money to helping those living with HIV and AIDS.