Globally, around 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2018, a 16 percent decline since 2010, according to the latest UNAIDS report. The declining trend was strongly driven mostly by steady progress across most of eastern and southern Africa.
UNAIDS' Global AIDS Update showed that South Africa, for example, has made huge advances and has successfully reduced new HIV infections by more than 40 percent and AIDS-related deaths by around 40 percent since 2010.
The report also revealed that AIDS-related deaths continued to decline as access to treatment continues to expand and more progress is made in improving the delivery of HIV/tuberculosis services.
However, there was still a long way to go in eastern and southern Africa, the region most affected by HIV, and there have been worrying increases in new infections in eastern Europe and central Asia (29 per cent), in the Middle East and North Africa (10 per cent) and in Latin America (7 per cent).
The report also said that key populations and their sexual partners now account for more than half (54 per cent) of new HIV infections globally.
In 2018, key populations, including people who inject drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers and prisoners, accounted for around 95 per cent of new HIV infections in eastern Europe and central Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa.
However, the report showed that less than 50 per cent of key populations were reached with combination HIV prevention services in more than half of the countries that reported.
This highlighted that key populations were still being marginalized and being left behind in the response to HIV.
"We urgently need increased political leadership to end AIDS," the report quoted Gunilla Carlsson, UNAIDS Executive Director, as saying,
"This starts with investing adequately and smartly and by looking at what's making some countries so successful. Ending AIDS is possible if we focus on people, not diseases, create road maps for the people and locations being left behind, and take a human rights-based approach to reach people most affected by HIV."