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51% of HIV positive people globally are women – UNAIDS

THE UNAIDS 2017 data on HIV shows that new infections have declined in Zambia from 67,000 to 59,000 in five years. And UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé says 51 per cent of people living with HIV globally are female. Meanwhile, Sidibé says accurate and credible data on the HIV epidemic are the cornerstone of the AIDS response.

According to the UNAIDS, antiretroviral therapy scale-up has been largely responsible for a steep decline in AIDS-related mortality in eastern and southern Africa. The recent data on new infections indicates that in 2005,  there were 69,000 infected, while in 2010, they reduced to 67,000 but slumped to 59,000 in 2016.

As for AIDS related deaths in Zambia, numbers stood at 64,000 in 2005, reducing to 29,000 in 2010 and further went down to 21,000 in 2016. The UNAIDS data further shows that people living with HIV in 2005 stood at 920,000 rising to 1,000,000 in 2010 and 1,200,000 in 2016. However, UNAIDS reveals that people who knew their HIV status stood at 66 per cent in 2016, while 58 per cent were virally suppressed.

UNAIDS added that the drop in deaths due to AIDS-related illnesses had been even greater among children (aged 0-14 years), declining from an estimated 130, 000 [99, 000-150,000] in 2010 to 58,000 [41, 000–80,000] in 2016.

“AIDS-related illness remains a leading cause of death in the region, however, especially among young women and girls aged 15–24 years,” UNAIDS revealed.

On expenditure, UNAIDS stated that Zambia in 2012 spent a total of US$282,218,626 on HIV.

“This snapshot of the HIV epidemic shows us where we are in our commitment to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. It shows us how far we have come and how far we have to go. Despite the fact that 51 per cent of people living with HIV globally are female, higher treatment coverage and better adherence to treatment among women have driven more rapid declines in AIDS-related deaths among females,” Sidibe stated.

“Deaths from AIDS-related illnesses were 27 per cent lower among women and girls in 2016 than they were among men and boys. Nonetheless, AIDS related illnesses remain the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age (15-49 years) globally, and they are the second leading cause of death for young women aged 15-24 years in Africa.”

The UNAIDS further stated that declines in deaths from AIDS-related illnesses were sharpest in eastern and southern Africa, where they peaked at 1.1 million [950,000-1.2 million] in 2004 and then plummeted by 62 per cent to 420, 000 [350, 000-10, 000] in 2016, a trend that reflected the rapid scale-up of antiretroviral therapy in the region.

Sidibé says he is proud that UNAIDS led the world’s most extensive data collection on HIV epidemiology, programme coverage and finance and published the most authoritative and up-to-date information on the HIV epidemic.

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