UNAIDS Reports Decreasing HIV Infection, But It's Still Not Enough

The global rate of HIV infection and the number of AIDS-related deaths is decreasing at an optimistic rate. According to a recent report by the Joint United Nations Programme Oon HIV/AIDs (UNAIDS), death rates fell from 2.3 million during its peak in 2005 to 1.6 million last year. The rates are even lower for children, with more than half a million new infections in 2001 to just over a quarter of a million in 2012, the BBC reports. What prompted such a significant drop? One primary reason is increased access to antiretroviral drugs. While HIV infection rates are falling, the number of people getting treatment is going up.

To continue the positive progress, there is a pressing call for funding underway. By 2015, the World Health Organization aims to treat 15 million people with HIV. Given the evidenced success of former funding, the push for donors is necessary in the pursuit of reducing infection and AIDS-related deaths. There is still a social stigma associated with HIV that has prevented more widespread funding.

"Gender inequality, punitive laws and discriminatory actions are continuing to hamper national responses to HIV and concerted efforts are needed to address these persistent obstacles to the scale up of HIV services for people most in need," UNAIDS wrote in a press release.

Although rates are decreasing, sexual promiscuity is increasing among youth in Africa. The report showed a significant jump in sexual partners and a decline in condom use throughout Africa. Unfortunately, those who are positioned at increased risk are receiving insufficient funding due to social and behavioral restrictions.

"There are worrisome signs that social and behavioral programming might now have a lower priority," the researchers wrote in the report.

According to MedCity News, total funding for the global fight against HIV and AIDS in 2012 was $18.9 billion, about $3 billion to $5 billion short of the estimated $22 billion to $24 billion needed annually by 2015.

As the world continues to move towards globalization, it is important that public health policies turn their attention to stemming the spread of HIV. In order for this epidemic to cease, increased funding for treatment accessibility, continued research, and global social and behavioral treatment programs is the only way forward.