Global efforts on HIV treatment and prevention have helped to turn a deadly disease into a manageable one for many.
The positive news on a global level is that rates of infection are decreasing. Also, access to ART and other support systems is increasing across key HIV demographics.
The gap between the number infected and the number receiving treatment has gradually decreased over recent years. In 2010, 7.5 out of 33.5 million people received the appropriate treatment, in 2015 it was 17 out of 36.7 million.
HIV may be a treatable, preventable illness, but there are still millions worldwide dealing with the issue. Many keys, vulnerable HIV demographics still struggle to receive help and guidance, and there are big differences across major continents.
HIV Demographics In Africa
Naturally, when we think of the worst affected HIV demographics, we tend to focus on those dealing with the illness in Africa. This is more specifically Sub-Saharan Africa, as rates and trends in North Africa and the Middle East are much different.
In this more Northern region, there were 21,000 new cases in 2015, which meant a rise since 2010 of 4%. Further south, the story was much different.
There were 410,000 new cases in West and Central Africa and 960,000 in Eastern and Southern Africa. This is a significant difference, yet respectively represents falls in rates of 8% and 14%.
The actions in Sub-Saharan Africa are having an impact. There are still 19 million people across key HIV demographics in Eastern and Southern Africa requiring treatment and support. Likewise, there are 6.5 million in Western and Central Africa. This is a large population in need of considerable care and attention.
Improvements are apparent in treating and testing people across this region. However, funds for treatment provision aren’t always enough, and there are still obstacles to education and policy.
As in many countries, it is the LBGT community that is often worst affected in these critical HIV demographics. Attitudes to gay rights and gender issues in some nations do not help in the fight against HIV. Also, there are concerns about the high number of women infected as the victims of sexual abuse.
HIV Demographics In North America
The focus on the problem in Africa is unavoidable due to publicity, aid campaigns and general views on the AIDs crisis. This means we tend to overlook the fact that many people are dealing with the issue in the US too.
Avert’s global statistics place North America and Western and Central Europe together in one big group. The stats seem pretty good compared to those of Africa.
There were 91,000 new cases across the region in 2015, which represented a small decrease of 1%. This placed the total number living with the disease at 2.4 million.
There is a problem with this broad spread of data, across such a large part of the western world. It doesn’t give an accurate representation of the scale of the problem in some US communities.
The picture may be bright and positive generally, but there are important communities and HIV demographics in America that are struggling. There is a divide between those in need of ART solutions and access to care.
Recent stats show that 34% of healthcare professionals weren’t even aware of the potential for Pre-exposure Prophylaxis treatment.
It is easy to focus in on the disadvantaged communities in poorer, southern regions, where rates of transmission seem to be disproportionately high.
Some groups are clearly more at risk than others, with African Americans and men who have sex with men at the top of the list. However, there are also concerns over the rise in HIV cases in prisons, issues with drug abuse and the lack of sex education.
HIV Demographics In Other Regions
When we turn our attention to other global regions and HIV demographics we see other interesting trends. The most ignored are parts of Asia Pacific as Americans only see the problem as a predominantly African issue, or focus on domestic problems.
Here there were 300,000 new cases in 2015, which suggests that there is an issue here too in HIV prevention measures. However, this did reflect a fall of 5%, so something has to be working here.
The same is true for Latin America and the Caribbean. Here there was no increase, nor decrease, in the rates of new infections over that five year period, and 100,000 new cases.
The most alarming new trend seen in this data is perhaps that of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. 190,000 new cases in 5 years don’t sound so bad as compared to the 410,000 in West and Central Africa and the 960,000 in Eastern and Southern Africa.
However, this represented a rise of a staggering 57%. Something is clearly going wrong in this area. Transmission rates are far too high, and we need to do more to prevent a disaster.
Major issues remain the same for vital HIV demographics across the world, regardless of continent.
There are clear differences here in the rates and numbers of people living with HIV and transmitting the disease. The basic issues remain the same in many of these key HIV demographics.
There will always be differences in the smaller HIV demographics affected in the country. We see this in the rate of HIV is US prisoners and the problem of sex abuse victims in Africa. However, issues of access, funding, treatment options, education, and support spread across the board.
There is a need to spend billions of dollars on aid and funding efforts in developing countries to improve the quality of the case, and accessibility. The problem of financing and availability remains in the poorer communities of the US.
Avert has identified PMTCT (prevention of mother-to-child transmission) and TB as important risk factors. They need a reliable solution for prevention and treatment in all areas, not just Africa.
As for education, there must be safe sex advice on condom use and the myths and truths behind HIV transmission in all areas. This reaches from a poor young sex worker in Asia to a high school student in the US.
Without this global access and change in attitudes, the fight against HIV will be tough for many HIV demographics for years to come.