UNAIDS has warned that the number of people living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has risen in every region of the world and last year 5 million people became newly infected with HIV - more people than any previous year.
The findings are contained in the 2004 UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic, released today in advance of the XV International AIDS Conference, to be held in Bangkok, Thailand from 11-16 July 2004. The new report represents the most accurate picture of AIDS to date due to the more comprehensive country surveillance data and improved methods for estimating HIV rates.
“Despite increased funding, political commitment and progress in expanding access to HIV treatment over the past 2 years, the AIDS epidemic continues to outpace the global response,” said Dr Peter Plot, UNAIDS Executive Director. Since the 2002 AIDS Conference in Barcelona, more than 9 million people have become infected and 6 million have died of AIDS. “These numbers demonstrate the enormity of the challenge in both preventing millions of infections and treating those living with HIV,” added Dr Plot. “Until we recognize AIDS as the development and security issue of our time, we will not succeed in beating this epidemic.”
The number of people living with HIV continues to grow - from 35 million in 2001 to 38 million in 2003. The 2004 UNAIDS report highlights the latest global trends and, for the first time, features revised HIV prevalence rates for previous years, allowing for a better understanding of how the epidemic is spreading.
For the first time, the report compares new estimates for 2003 with revised estimates for 2001 based on improved methodologies. This is the best way we know how to obtain a more accurate picture of the AIDS epidemic. Although the new global estimates are slightly lower than the previously published estimates, the actual number of people living with HIV has not decreased; rather the epidemic continues to grow based on revised 2001 estimates.
“There is no time to misread the signals, with Asia facing life and death choices in preventing a full blow AIDS catastrophe in the region,” said Dr Plot. “Equally alarming, infections in Africa continue to increase and people are dying in large numbers.”