UN Development Chief Hails Progress on Halting and Reversing Spread of HIV; Says Significant Challenges Remain

Dec 1, 2013

Dec. 1, Johannesburg – On the 25th Anniversary of World Aids Day, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Helen Clark hailed the significant progress made to date in tackling the epidemic, but warned that the international community could not lose sight of the significant challenges that remained.

“Today, there is much to celebrate,” Helen Clark said.  “New HIV infections fell by 33 percent between 2001 and 2012, AIDS-related deaths have dropped by thirty percent since 2005, and life-saving antiretroviral treatment reached almost ten million people in 2012 – a forty fold increase since 2002.”

She also cautioned that real obstacles remained, citing the 2.3 million people infected with HIV each year, the growth of the epidemic in a number of countries and regions, and the female face of the epidemic.“Sixty percent of young people living with HIV globally are female, and in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV prevalence among young women is more than twice as high as among young men,” she said.  

Punitive laws, gender-based violence, stigma, and discrimination continue to obstruct progress addressing HIV, particularly among key at risk populations and women.  In 2012, sixty percent of national government reported the existence of discriminatory laws, regulations or politics that impede access to effective HIV prevention, treatment, and support services.

Two recent studies of women in Uganda (15–49 years) and South Africa (15–26 years) found that women who had experienced intimate partner violence were 50% more likely to have acquired HIV than women who had not experienced violence.
Helen Clark made her remarks while visiting an HIV clinic in Johannesburg.  South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world.

6.4 million people are living with HIV in South Africa and the estimated prevalence of HIV from 10.6% in 2008 to 12.3% in 2012.  In the key age group of adults aged 15–49 years, HIV prevalence is 23.3% among females and 13.3% among males. HIV prevalence among youth aged 15 – 24 years decreased from 10.3% in 2005 to 8.7% in 2008 and 7.3% in 2012.
UNDP is a co-sponsor of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS and partner of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.  UNDP supports countries to respond to the development dimensions of HIV and health.  

Global HIV Facts and Figures:

  • 35.3 million people globally living with HIV
  • 2.3 million people became newly infected with HIV - this is the lowest number of annual new infections since the mid-to-late 1990s.
  • Every hour 50 young women are newly infected with HIV
  • 1.6 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses
  • 9.7 million people in low and middle-income countries had access to antiretroviral therapy at the end of 2012
  • Under the 2013 WHO guidelines, the HIV treatment coverage in low-and middle-income countries represented only 34% (32-37%) of the 28.6 million people eligible in 2012
  • 60% of national governments reported the existence of laws, regulations or policies that present obstacles to effective HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services for key populations and vulnerable groups.


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