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WHO Identifies Five Key HIV Risk Groups
- Updated: July 11, 2014
The World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed on Friday five key groups that are at the highest risk of becoming infected with HIV, halting the progress of the global battle with AIDS. The groups identified as populations affected by “exploding epidemics” of HIV infections are: men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender women, persons who inject drugs and prisoners or people in other closed settings. Gottfried Hirnschall, director of the WHO’s department said that they account for up to 50 percent of new cases of HIV infection.
Although they show alarmingly high rates of HIV, those groups have poor access to prevention, testing and treatment services. “None of these people live in isolation,” Hirnschall said. “Sex workers and their clients have husbands, wives and partners. Some inject drugs. Many have children. Failure to provide services to the people who are at greatest risk of HIV jeopardizes further progress against the global epidemic.”
The WHO reports that female sex workers are 14 times more likely to have HIV than other women, the risk for gay men is 19 times higher than in the general population, while transgender women and injecting drug users are almost 50 times more likely than other adults to have HIV.
35.3 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, but with the development of new HIV tests and AIDS drugs, along with providing them to those who need treatment, the annual AIDS death toll has dropped to 1.6 million people in 2012 from 2.3 million in 2005. The number of new HIV infections has declined by one-third in 2013 from 2011.