The increasing success of HIV drug treatment is great news in the world of medicine as patients infected with HIV/AIDS improve their life expectancy, while the number of people with the disease has reached record highs.
On Monday, the United Nations AIDS program said more people than ever are living with the AIDS virus, but this is largely due to better access to drugs that keep HIV patients alive and well for many years.
Although the number of AIDS cases may look concerning at first, it is a positive sign that the number of new HIV cases has diminished.
The 2011 UNAIDS World AIDS Day report highlights that HIV treatment is having a significant affect on reducing the number of new HIV infections. Therefore, as people living with HIV/AIDS live longer, this does not mean that more people are newly infected or that the disease is spreading as a result.
“Even in a very difficult financial crisis, countries are delivering results in the AIDS response,” said Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS. “We have seen a massive scale up in access to HIV treatment which has had a dramatic effect on the lives of people everywhere.”
According to UNAIDS, 47 percent of the estimated 14.2 million people eligible for treatment in low- and middle-income countries were accessing lifesaving antiretroviral therapy in 2010, an increase of 1.35 million since 2009.
The UNAIDS report also said 34 million people around the world had HIV in 2010, up from 33.3 million in 2009.
The fact that the number of people who are currently living with HIV is at a record high is a result of the success of medicine and the progress made in adverting preventable deaths. It was reported that 2.5 million deaths were averted since 2005 because of treatment.
Roughly 2.7 million were newly infected with HIV in 2010, and 1.8 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2010.