HIV/AIDS: progress and challenges celebrated on World AIDS Day

December 1, 2014

by Christina Craig

Today, in commemoration of World AIDS Day, many National Public Health Insititutes (NPHIs), along with the World Health Organization, have published reports on their national HIV/AIDS progress and challenges, in order to increase awareness and “Close the gap” on HIV testing, prevention, and treatment around the world. Globally, new HIV infection rates have decreased by 38% since 2001, which is certainly reason to celebrate. And although the disease continues to be a significant global health threat, with 35 million people living with HIV today, many more patients now have access to treatment - with a remarkable increase of 2 million patients gaining access to anti-retroviral treatment in 2013.

However, despite the global trend towards fewer new infections, in Europe there has been an 80% increase in new cases since 2004, according to a recent surveillance report published last week by the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC). Marc Sprenger, ECDC Director and Emeritus IANPHI Executive Board Member, explains that “across Europe the populations most at-risk of HIV infection are not reached effectively enough, particularly men who have sex with men,” and improving prevention and control among this group will be a “cornerstone of national HIV programs across Europe.”

European NPHIs will have a key role in reaching this cornerstone and decreasing transmission among at-risk groups. Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reports that approximately one in five people living with HIV in Finland are not aware of their HIV status. Thus, THL’s focus for this year’s World AIDS Day is testing. Their slogan: “Probably does not mean for sure. Do not guess. Get a free HIV test and know.” INSERM, France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research, released an updated online HIV/AIDS disease file today. The webpage includes infographics, videos, information on the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, and updates on the latest AIDS research.

Other NPHIs have published press releases on the state of HIV/AIDS and their progress towards “closing the gap” in both their countries and around the world. Mexico’s Insititut Nacional de Salud Publica (INSP) published a press release, as did the U.S. Center for Disease Contol and Prevention (CDC) and Brazil’s National Insititute of Public Health (FIOCRUZ).

For more information and NPHI resources, visit:

- WHO’s Guidelines on post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV (NEW!)

- U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention

- European Center for Disease Control

- Close the Gap Campaign

- WHO HIV/AIDS Fact Sheet