Mixed success in eradicating AIDS
- Last Updated on Thursday, 03 May 2012 13:36
- Published on Thursday, 03 May 2012 13:36
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UNITED NATIONS -- UN officials report mixed success in the global effort by governments and health care providers to eradicate AIDS, saying that antiretroviral drug therapies are working, access to treatment is increasing and fewer people with the disease are dying -- though more people than ever are living with HIV.
"AIDS remains one of the great challenges of our times," stated the report released Monday by Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. "More people than ever, an estimated 34 million as of December 2010, are living with HIV."
The 25-page report states nations will not reach the goals set last year in the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, adopted by the General Assembly, to reduce the scourge of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome by 2015.
Those goals include reducing by 50 percent the number of new infections through sexual contact and intravenous drugs to 1 million and 120,000 a year, respectively. In the most recent figures available, for 2010, the number of new infections, 2.7 million, was 21 percent lower than in 1997, when infections peaked at 3.3 million.
"While new infections are on the decline in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, HIV incidence is rising in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, in the Middle East and North Africa, and in certain Asian countries," the report said.
Still, sub-Saharan Africa remains troubling: It is home to 68 percent of all people living with HIV and 70 percent of all people newly infected in 2010.
"Although striking progress has been achieved, the world is not on track to meet the 2015 targets, underscoring the urgent need for all stakeholders to redouble their efforts to strengthen the HIV response," Ban's report stated.
Fewer people are dying of AIDS-related diseases, the report stated, and, in low- and middle-income countries, antiretroviral drug cocktails have prevented an estimated 2.5 million deaths since 1995. And the 1.8 million AIDS-related deaths reported in 2010 is 18 percent lower than it has been since the mid-2000s.
The report recommends an aggressive approach to achieve the goals, which include reaching 15 million people living with HIV with antiretroviral treatment, eliminating new infections in children and substantially reducing AIDS-related maternal deaths, halving tuberculosis among those living with HIV and increasing research and treatment funding.
Indeed, it said that $22 billion to $24 billion will be needed by 2015 to reach the targets even as it reported a decline in funding in 2010, when $15 billion was appropriated worldwide.
"Efforts must be refocused to achieve real results and end a global epidemic of historic proportions," the report said. "The response must be smarter and more strategic, streamlined, efficient and grounded in human rights."