A UN report released on Thursday which was tagged “the scales have tipped” has shown that the deadly virus AIDS claimed a million lives in 2016, which stands at almost half of the 2005 toll which marked the peak of the deadly disease.
This is a pointer that there is a decline in new HIV infections and deaths, and also indicates that more people have embraced the life-saving treatments, according to the data that was disclosed ahead of an AIDS science conference to hold in Paris on Sunday.
“In 2016, 19.5 million of the 36.7 million people living with HIV had access to treatment,” said the UNAIDS global roundup.
This is the first time that more than half the number of infected people are receiving anti-retroviral treatment which subdues the AIDS virus although it does not kill it.
“AIDS-related deaths have fallen from 1.9 million in 2005 to one million in 2016,” said the authors, adding that “for the first time the scales have tipped.”
The report showed that 1.8 million new infections were recorded in 2016, which is nearly half the record number of 3.5 million in 1997. In total, 76.1 million people have been infected with HIV since the epidemic came to light in the 1980s, in which about 35 million have lost their lives.
“Communities and families are thriving as AIDS is being pushed back,” said UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe.
“As we bring the epidemic under control, health outcomes are improving and nations are becoming stronger.”
However, there is no cure or HIV vaccine for the disease and infected people are resigned to depending on lifelong antiretroviral therapy to prevent the virus from multiplying.
HIV infected people go on to develop AIDS if treatment is neglected and this results in the weakening of the body’s immune system leaving the body exposed to various infections like tuberculosis as well as some forms of cancer.
The treatment carries side effects and is expensive but ensures that infected people and live healthier and longer lives.
WATCH: New approach to HIV treatment could save 10 million lives, says UN report