Despite efforts to eliminate the AIDS epidemic by 2030, a report shows that new cases of HIV infections increased in 74 countries over the past decade. Published on July 19 in The Lancet HIV, the study cites that Mexico, Pakistan, Egypt, Kenya, Philippines, Cambodia and Russia are among the countries where new infections were diagnosed between 2005 and 2015.

The study was coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. It involved conducting the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD) in 124 countries.

The data reveal that new cases of HIV fell very slowly at a rate of only 0.7 percent annually between 2005 and 2015. This is significantly low compared to the 2.7 percent drop recorded annually between 1997 and 2005.

HIV infections

New infections of HIV increased over the past decade. Credit: AVERT

“This study shows that the AIDS epidemic is not over by any means and that HIV/AIDS remains one of the biggest public health threats of our time,” says UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot, also the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “The continuing high rate of over 2 million new HIV infections represents a collective failure which must be addressed through intensified prevention efforts and continued investment in HIV vaccine research.”

Overall, 39 million people worldwide are living with HIV in 2015, a significant increase from the 28 million recorded in 2000. However, lead author Haidong Wang, an associate professor at IHME, asserts that people with HIV are living longer than they did before, thanks to better treatments. In 2000, less than two percent of people with HIV used antiretroviral therapy (ART) but in 2015, the number increased by up to 41%.

The study also found that ART is different among men and women. The research team found that ART use is 10 percent higher among women around the world and 50 percent higher among women in several sub-Saharan countries. On the other hand, ART use is 50 percent higher among women in some South Asian and Eastern European countries.

The researchers note that women with HIV are more likely to die prematurely than men with HIV. Overall, 1.2 million men and women with HIV died in 2015, an improvement to the 1.8 million death rate recorded in 2005.