Concerted global efforts to ramp up the number of HIV-positive people receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment have succeeded in doubling the figure in five years, to almost 16 million. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) released this figure in a new report about the global HIV epidemic issued to mark World AIDS Day.

UNAIDS has stated that the recent rate of increase of the number of people receiving ARVs puts the global HIV fight to see another doubling of the figure by 2020. This would help achieve UNAIDS’s ambitious “90–90–90” aim of having 90 percent of people living with HIV know their serostatus by that time, as well as 90 percent of those individuals on treatment, and 90 percent of that group achieving an undetectable viral load.

An estimated 2.2 million people with HIV were receiving ARVs in 2005. This figure rose to 7.5 million in 2010 and an estimated 15.8 million by June 2015. At that time, an estimated 36.9 million people worldwide were HIV positive. An estimated 2 million were newly infected with the virus in 2014, a figure that had fallen by 35 percent since the peak in 2000. An estimated 1.2 million people died of AIDS-related causes in 2014, a figure 42 percent lower than the peak seen in 2004.

These trends have not been even around the world. UNAIDS has also reported that Europe recently saw its highest-ever number of new HIV cases, at 142,000. (And even within European nations, trends are uneven.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the U.S. transmission rate has remained constant for many years: Only about 25 to 30 percent of Americans living with HIV are estimated to have a fully suppressed viral load, a far cry from the 72 percent rate required to satisfy the 90–90–90 goals. The United States stands out among Western nations for its remarkably low proportion of HIV-positive individuals who are diagnosed; in regular medical care; on ARVs; and who have a fully suppressed viral load.

To read a WHO press release about the report and link to the report, click here.

To read the Reuters article, click here.