World AIDS Day 2012


World AIDS Day is celebrated on December 1st each year around the world. It is a key opportunity to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS, to commemorate those who have died, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.

World AIDS Day 2012 is about “Getting to Zero.” Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths. Backed by the United Nations the “Getting to Zero” campaign runs until 2015. From December 1st 2011 to 2015 it’s envisioned that different regions and groups will each year chose one or all of the “Zeros” that best addresses their situation.

There is positive news in the latest World AIDS Day Report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), which shows that a 50% reduction in the rate of new HIV infections (HIV incidence) has been achieved in 25 low- and middle-income countries between 2001 and 2011. In some of the highest prevalence countries in the world, rates of new HIV infections have been cut dramatically since 2001; by 73% in Malawi, 71% in Botswana, 68% in Namibia and 58% in Zambia. In the last two years, there has been a 60% increase in the number of people accessing life-saving treatment – 8 million people are now on antiretroviral therapy. However, the total number of new HIV infections remains high at 2.5 million in 2011 and the report shows that HIV continues to have a disproportionate impact on sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM) and people who inject drugs.

In 2011, an estimated:

  • 34 million [31.4 million – 35.9 million] people globally living with HIV
  • 2.5 million [2.2 million – 2.8 million] became newly infected with HIV
  • 1.7 million [1.5 million – 1.9 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses

See the joint press release from ECDC and WHO on "Investing in HIV response essential to curb on-going HIV transmission in Europe. Stockholm/Copenhagen, 30 November 2012".

Latest Irish HIV Data
The latest HIV report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) describes new HIV diagnoses in Ireland in Quarter 3 2012. During Q3, there were 91 new diagnoses with 50% among MSM, 31% among heterosexuals and 3% among IDUs. Seventy four percent were male and the median age was 34 years. Of the cases where CD4 count was known (70% of cases in Q3), 47% were diagnosed at a late stage of infection (CD4 count<350 cells/mm3) and 23% were severely immunocompromised at the time of diagnosis (CD4 count <200 cells/mm3). This compares to the 2011 data where 52% of new cases were diagnosed at a late stage and 27% were severely immunocompromised at diagnosis (of the cases where CD4 count was known: 67% of cases). In recent years, men who have sex with men (MSM) are the group in Ireland most severely affected by HIV in Ireland and accounted for 43% of new diagnoses in 2011. Figure 1 shows the trends in the three main risk groups, MSM, heterosexuals and Injecting Drug Users (IDUs) from 2000 to 2011.

Figure 1

World AIDS Day 2012 graph

The full version of the Quarter 3 2012 HIV report and other HIV reports can be found on the HPSC website.

For information on events happening in Ireland to mark World AIDS Day 2012, please see here.

If you require further information on HIV or sexual health, please click here for links to HIV support organisations in Ireland. The website provides a list of clinics where you can organize a confidential HIV test.