AIDS is on the decline and, according to a new report, could be eliminated worldwide by 2030.
That's the goal that UNAIDS, the United Nations program to tackle AIDS, is hopeful to meet. In its 2015 report, it claims that new HIV infections have declined by 35 percent in the last 15 years, giving the organization hope of a positive outcome for the next 15.
"Ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030 is ambitious, but realistic, as the history of the past 15 years has shown and this book illustrates. We also know that it is essential to a fair and equitable future," wrote Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary-general, in the UNAIDS report.
In 2002, the report claims that more than 28.6 million people lived with HIV and about 1.6 million people died from the disease. Today those numbers look quite different thanks to the anti-AIDS movement spreading awareness, education and medication (thanks to countries allotting the proper funds). In 10 years, the number of deaths have almost been eliminated by half.
But there's still lots to be done to actually achieve it.
Michael Sidibe, UNAIDS executive director, worries about African women and girls, for instance. Though AIDS affects 35 million people worldwide, the majority come from Africa, and other low- and middle-income countries.
"Innovation is leaving them behind, and systems are shutting them out. We need female-controlled options for prevention, and we need to be working more closely with the women's movement to stop gender-based violence and create more opportunities for women and girls to succeed in school and in life," he said in a conversation documented in the report.
"You know that AIDS changed the way we talk about sex, and we need to make sure comprehensive sexuality education reaches all young people and that young people have access to sexual and reproductive health services that are serving them with the respect everyone deserves."
Even so, experts are hopeful that this progress is just the beginning of the end.