Malcolm Quigley: As threat of AIDS fades, we must now focus on supporting relatives caring for the victims
IN the last 12 months a new phrase has come to dominate discussions about HIV and AIDS - ‘the tide is turning’. There is now a strong body of evidence to support the idea that the worst of the epidemic is behind us. Worldwide, the number of AIDS-related deaths has fallen by 25% in the last six years, from 2.3 million in 2005 to 1.7 million in 2011.
We are also seeing a significant fall in infection rates. A recent study by UNAIDS found that new HIV infections across 25 low- and middle-income countries dropped by more than 50% in the last two years.
Developments like improved access to testing, more widespread use of condoms, better sex and health education and male circumcision are making a real difference. The most significant factor, however, has been increased access to anti-retroviral drugs. In recent years these drugs have become more affordable and accessible for millions of people in the developing world. In the last two years, access to treatment has increased by 63%. Today, UN AIDS estimated that more than 2.3 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa have access to HIV treatment.