UN Report Estimates more than Half with AIDS don’t Know they’re Infected

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
AIDS test (AP Photo)

More than half of all the world’s HIV patients are not aware of their medical condition, according to a new United Nations’ report. Nineteen million of the 35 million living with the human immunodeficiency virus are unaware that they’re infected.


Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, which produced the report, says: “Whether you live or die should not depend on access to an HIV test.”


“Smarter scale-up is needed to close the gap between people who know their HIV status and people who don’t, people who can get services and people who can’t and people who are protected and people who are punished,” he said in a prepared statement.


The report shows that knowledge is power. In sub-Saharan Africa, the study found that 90% of those who test positive for HIV begin antiretroviral therapy. About three-quarters of those who undergo such treatment achieve viral suppression, and are unlikely to transmit the disease to a sexual partner.


Sidibé offered some words of encouragement, noting that increased funding for anti-HIV programs could result in the eradication of the epidemic within 16 years. If this development came about by 2030, it would mean avoiding 18 million new HIV infections and 11.2 million AIDS-related deaths between now and then.


The UNAIDS report offers some staggering numbers on how concentrated the HIV epidemic is. More than 75% of all new cases today exist in just 15 nations. The virus is often concentrated within a few nations in each region. In sub-Saharan Africa, three countries—Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda—have 48% of all new HIV infections.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

UNAIDS Report Shows That 19 Million of the 35 Million People Living with HIV Today Do Not Know That They Have the Virus (UNAIDS)

The Gap Report (UNAIDS) (pdf)


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