People living with HIV today can expect to live nearly 20 years longer than the start of the century. According to a major UN report on the disease, it’s thanks to antiretroviral drugs being cheaper and more accessible.
HIV is no longer the death sentence it once was.
The UN’s report, from their Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAids), says the average HIV-positive person nowadays can expect to live around 55 years – 19 years longer than in 2001.
The reduced price and improved access to treatment are the cause for the improvement; the world has met the UN’s target number of 15 million people having access to antiretroviral drugs by this year. In comparison, less than 700,000 had access to the same drugs in 2000.
“Reaching 15 million people with antiretroviral therapy is one of the greatest achievements in the history of global health, financing and development,” said Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAids.
Despite the accessibility to treatment, experts believe Aids could make a major comeback if governments don’t increase funding for treatments even more over the next five years.
“We have a fragile five-year window. We have bent the Aids curve, but we haven’t broken it,” Sidibé continued.
Antiretroviral treatment costs have plummeted from $14,000 in 2000 to less than $100 today, according to the UN. Funding for Aids-related responses has rose from $4.9 billion in 2001 to $21.7 billion today.
The UN has optimistically targeted 2030 as the end date to the Aids epidemic. For that to happen, everyone with HIV must have access to antiretroviral drugs, and new infections/Aids-related deaths dropping to 200,000 a year.
“Ending the Aids epidemic as a public health threat by 2030 is ambitious but realistic, as the history of the past 15 years has shown,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general.