Good news on the global HIV/AIDS front (with an asterisk)

Friday, July 17, 2015

The UN's Ban Ki-moon proclaimed the possibility of "the end of AIDS" in a cautiously optimistic tone after a new UNAIDS report was released in Addis Ababa this week showing, among other things:
...a 35-percent drop in new HIV infections from 15 years ago.

The positive news was also coupled with calls for more funding, with the objective of eliminating the virus by 2030. The United Nations also warned that continuing stigmatisation of sex workers, drug users and homosexuals were barriers to progress.
"After a decade of unprecedented growth, financing for the AIDS response has levelled off. At the same time, the world now has compelling evidence that people with HIV benefit by accessing anti-retroviral therapy as early as possible," it said.

UNAIDS said further increases and efficient reallocation were needed to address the "increased need of earlier initiation of anti-retroviral therapy" and called for AIDS spending of $32 billion (29 billion euros) annually between now and 2020 in the hope of eliminating the virus by 2030.
The UN has set up an ambitious treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic, aiming to ensure that 90 percent of all people living with HIV will know their status and that 90 percent of those diagnosed with HIV will receive anti-retroviral therapy.

The third target is that 90 percent of all people receiving anti-retroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
That's the "90-90-90" goal, for short.

While it is certainly true that the world as a whole has made great strides toward "the end of AIDS" (a phrase which a lot of activists nevertheless have issues with) and reduction of HIV transmission in general, efforts to eliminate AIDS as a clinical condition globally will be held back by countries where incidence rates are still increasing and infection is highly stigmatized. For example, new infections in South Korea continue to steadily rise, and most are diagnosed very late, as HIV is largely viewed as a "foreigner's disease" and Korean nationals largely avoid testing, even if they are high-risk.

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