FIGHTING HIV/AIDS ONE DATA POINT AT A TIME
SEE HOW INEQUALITIES HAVE ALLOWED THE HIV EPIDEMIC TO CONTINUE RAGING IN PARTS OF THE WORLD
By Caitlin Cassidy
While HIV and AIDS don’t make headlines much in the United States these days thanks to great progress in the fight against them, the story isn’t necessarily the same in many other countries around the world.
I have always had a strong interest in global health, particularly HIV. I also have a passion for statistics and data. In college I studied statistics and international studies so I could pursue research at the intersection of these two fields. Now in graduate school, I am interested in using statistics to answer public health questions related to HIV and inform practices aimed at ending the epidemic.
It began in the late 1970s, and by 1980, HIV had already spread to most parts of the world – many of which have been left behind or even seen the epidemic worsen. Data can give us insight into which countries are bearing the greatest burden, with disparities in treatment access driving even greater inequalities.
HIV/AIDS INEQUALITY INSIGHTS
As of 2020, there were approximately 37.6 million people around the world with HIV. Most of them live in low- and middle-income countries.
And certain populations remain more vulnerable than others. In sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls are the most affected population, accounting for 59% of all new HIV infections. In 2019, 4,500 girls and young women became infected every week.
Explore the map below to examine the impact of HIV on countries around the world. Use the slider to look at data from 1990 to 2019 to see how it changes over time.
One way the progression of an epidemic can be measured is through rates of death and incidence in a population. Taking a look at the number of people who die or become infected in a given year highlights the inequities between countries.
Explore three indicators of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the world in the chart below. Select one or more countries to compare.
ENDING THE EPIDEMIC
HIV testing and treatment are key, naturally. While antiretroviral medications do not offer a cure, people who take them are able to live longer, healthier lives with suppressed viral loads, making them no longer infectious and preventing the progression to AIDS.
The 90-90-90 HIV treatment targets are a set of goals developed by UNAIDS to reach by 2020. These targets are part of a larger effort to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The targets are:
By 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status.
By 2020, 90% of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy.
By 2020, 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
Despite a large amount of progress made between 2015 and 2019, most countries fell short. Only 14 countries reached the targets. UNAIDS noted that the 2020 targets would not be reached because of “deeply unequal success.” While progress varied considerably across regions, there are even greater gaps in progress within regions.
Because of the missed 90-90-90 targets, it is estimated that 3.5 million new HIV cases and more than 820,000 AIDS-related deaths occurred.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic demands greater attention, especially in countries which face a greater share of HIV cases and AIDS deaths. Being able to look deeper into the data behind the epidemic provides valuable information that serves as a crucial first step toward taking action.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Caitlin is an intern in Health and Life Sciences at SAS. She is currently attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is working towards a PhD in biostatistics.
All data in this report comes from aidsinfo.unaids.org.
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