HIV/AIDS: Growing Burden Shifts to Other Regions

Photo: AIDS

The global HIV/AIDS epidemic is chan-
ging in unexpected ways in countries around the world; © panthermedia.

Despite years of strong progress, the burden of AIDS is growing in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia and still significant in Eastern, Central, and Southern Africa.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is changing in unexpected ways in countries around the world, showing that greater attention and financial investment may be needed in places where the disease has not reached epidemic levels, according to a new study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of disease burden in 21 countries concentrated in four regions: Eastern and Southern Africa, Central Africa, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. In another seven countries, it is the second leading cause of disease burden. Despite widespread declines in HIV/AIDS mortality, between 2006 and 2010 HIV/AIDS deaths increased in 98 countries.

IHME researchers also underscore the achievements that have been made against HIV - in terms of raising public awareness and increasing access to antiretroviral treatment - as well as the unrelenting challenges that AIDS poses to health around the world. Millions of people, including many in low- and middle-income countries, now receive antiretroviral treatments (ARTs). There has been significant progress made against HIV/AIDS since global mortality due to the disease peaked in 2006; it has been steadily declining at an average annual rate of 4.2% since then.

"We cannot afford to become complacent when HIV/AIDS remains a tremendous threat," said researcher Katrina F. Ortblad of IHME. "Countries that bear significant burden must scale up effective interventions and treatments. In countries where the impact of HIV/AIDS is relatively small but burden is increasing, prevention can help change the course of future epidemics."

IHME's study examines health loss from HIV/AIDS as measured in DALYs, or disability-adjusted life years. DALYs combine years of life lost to premature death with years lived with disability and allow comparisons among different populations and health conditions. While the global health landscape is increasingly dominated by the rise of non-communicable diseases, injuries, and disabling conditions, HIV takes a particular toll on young people around the world. It is the number one cause of disease burden for men aged 30 to 44 and women aged 25 to 44.

Even in wealthier countries, challenges in addressing HIV/AIDS remain. In the United States, where deaths due to the disease are down 75.6% since its peak, HIV/AIDS still contributes to 0.7% of American health loss, far more than in other high-income countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, and France, and even more than in many developing countries such as Congo, Mongolia and Sri Lanka.

"The success we have made in combating HIV/AIDS illustrates what can happen when funders, advocates, governments and health experts commit to a common goal, and dedicate resources to back up the commitment," said Dr. Christopher Murray, IHME director. "By gathering the best evidence on the spread of HIV/AIDS we can ensure continued progress."; Source: University of Washington