In its annual update on worldwide trends in the AIDS epidemic, UNAIDS announced today that the number of people living with HIV is lower than previously thought. New sampling techniques used for this year’s report show that about 33 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, compared with last year’s estimate of around 40 million. Also, the new techniques yield an estimate that 2.5 million people will be infected with AIDS this year–which is a 40% drop in last year’s estimate.
The number of people living with AIDS each year is still increasing–but at a much slower rate than previously thought. This is excellent news, but far from a declaration of victory. From the Los Angeles Times:
Dr. Roger Detels, a UCLA epidemiologist, cautioned that the reduced numbers should not be used as an excuse to dismiss concerns about the pandemic.
“Even though the estimates are lower than we had previously thought, they’re still pretty significant,” Detels said. “You’re still talking about prevalences in sub-Saharan Africa where you’ve got over 20% of adults infected with HIV…I think the danger here is to say: ‘Oh my Lord, you know they overestimated. It’s not a very serious epidemic.’ I would say 33 million is a pretty serious epidemic.”
Indeed, the report shows that 5,700 people die each day from AIDS-related conditions. That’s like losing the population of Miami every two and a half months.