The U.N. Joint Program on AIDS


Global Progress Made Against AIDS, Despite Wavering Support | 

We’re not there yet, but the fight against AIDS is reaching a tipping point.

The number of new cases of HIV are falling while the number of people receiving life-saving treatment is going up. If current trends holds, the two trends will meet by 2015, says a new report.

That is the tipping point for beating AIDS.

The 2.3 million new HIV infections recorded in 2012 is the lowest number since the 1990s, says the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The cost of treatment for AIDS is down dramatically from roughly $10,000 per person per year in the 1990s to $140 today.

However, Attention and financing for AIDS is wavering as the world nears this crucial moment. UNAIDS estimates that as much as $24 billion will be needed each year by 2015. Continue reading

Without more money, it’s the end of the beginning of the end of AIDS | 

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day and most organizations that had something to say about this have already said it.

Most said: “We can end AIDS.”

Flickr, by Roger H. Goun

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for creating an “AIDS-free generation” and on Thursday released the Obama Administration’s blueprint aimed at describing how we can achieve this. Unfortunately, as the Washington Post noted:

The document, however, contains no specific targets or a schedule for achieving them. It also doesn’t estimate how much more money it would cost to reach the “tipping point” in high-prevalence countries, or where the money would come from.

Michele Sidibé, head of UNAIDS (the UN’s program on HIV/AIDS), also released a report and a suggested game plan for ending the AIDS pandemic.

The UNAIDS report celebrated major gains in reducing new HIV infections in many countries, some of them in sub-Saharan Africa, and called for “Getting to Zero” in terms of new HIV infections worldwide. Most of these gains have been in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in newborns.


Michel Sidibé

“It is becoming evident that achieving zero new HIV infections in children is possible,” said Sidibé. “I am excited that far fewer babies are being born with HIV. We are moving from despair to hope.”

Others celebrated some of the scientific gains such as more conclusive evidence that getting people on anti-HIV treatment also prevents the spread of disease by significantly reducing viral loads in HIV-infected persons.

And though a vaccine still seems a distant hope, researchers have made progress and are making headway on the basic immunology in ways that have recently also moved the vaccine community from despair to hope.


A Positive Trend, new HIV infections vs people getting treatment to prevent AIDS

We can end AIDS. It’s true.

It is also true to say we can end hunger and extreme poverty, if only we put enough resources, talent and political will into those efforts. But we don’t.

And until we put in the effort needed to truly suppress HIV/AIDS, calling for an end to the global AIDS pandemic will be, despite some amazing progress made in the past decade, wishful thinking. Continue reading

Social media ramps up, and turns off, for AIDS awareness | 

Flickr, Benny Sølz

For World AIDS Day, many organizations are using “social media” like Twitter and Facebook to get their messages out.

UNAIDS has its hashtag on Twitter #PreventionRevolution. There are lots of folks and organizations chiming in at #AIDS as well.

The organization (RED) is combining the power of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Foursquare and a few other things I’ve never heard of to create a map that they claim “tracks AIDS awareness” globally. Seattle has two stickpins signifying our region’s level of awareness. Not sure what that means, actually.

And of course, there are the celebrities like Lady Gaga, Ryan Seacrest and Kim Kardashian who have gone virtually dead for the day. That is, they have sacrificed a day of social media life to raise awareness and a million dollars in an aim to fight the pandemic. I can’t tell if I think this is just absurd, really insensitive or maybe actually a good thing. I mean, if it can keep Kim Kardashian quiet …