At the end of 2011, the world had 34.2 million HIV-infected people, a slight increase from 33.5 million the year before, says a new update on the epidemic put out by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). The increase is good news in a sense because it reflects that fact that more infected people are receiving antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, leading to fewer deaths from AIDS.
The slick, 135-page report, "Together We Will End AIDS," explains that 8 million people now receive ARVs, an increase of 20% from 2010. All told, 54% of the 14.8 million who need ARVs now receive them. But ARV coverage is below 25% in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. And worldwide, only 4% of HIV-infected injecting drug users are on ARVs.
Young people, 15 to 24 years old, now account for 40% of new adult infections. Women in that age bracket have twice the number of new infections as similarly aged men; the report notes that many of the HIV-infected women are subject to sexual violence, and they begin sexual activities and marry at a younger age. The number of children infected by their mothers has dropped to 330,000 from a peak of 570,000 in 2003.