16 mil­lion on HIV treat­ment as AIDS pan­demic tide turns

An­nual rates of AIDS deaths, HIV in­fec­tions fall

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH -

Some 15.8 mil­lion peo­ple are now on HIV treat­ment and a five-year strat­egy to end the threat of a never-end­ing AIDS pan­demic is start­ing to show re­sults, the United Na­tions AIDS pro­gram said yes­ter­day. Es­ti­mates show new HIV in­fec­tions have fallen by 35 per­cent since the peak of the three-decade-old pan­demic in 2000, and AIDS-re­lated deaths have fallen by 42 per­cent since a peak in 2004, UNAIDS said in a re­port timed for release be­fore World Aids Day on Dec 1.

Even be­fore the agency set out its strat­egy last year, the roughly 16 mil­lion peo­ple be­ing treated by June 2015 was dou­ble the num­ber in 2010. Barely 2.2 mil­lion were be­ing treated ten years ago. “To­day we can say we move from de­spair to hope. Ev­ery five years we have more than dou­bled the num­ber of peo­ple on life-saving treat­ment,” Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS’ ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, told re­porters at a brief­ing. “If we man­age to sus­tain our in­vest­ment and ... dou­ble the num­bers of peo­ple put on treat­ment, we can really break the back­bone of this epi­demic.” By the end of 2014, 36.9 mil­lion peo­ple were in­fected with the hu­man im­mun­od­e­fi­ciency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS, and more than half of them do not have ac­cess to treat­ment.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion says all peo­ple di­ag­nosed as HIV pos­i­tive should have im­me­di­ate ac­cess to an­tiretro­vi­ral AIDS drugs, which hold the virus in check and give pa­tients a good chance of a long and rel­a­tively healthy life. Re­spond­ing to the UNAIDS re­port, Sharo­nann Lynch, a pol­icy ad­viser for the med­i­cal char­ity Medecins Sans Fron­tieres (MSF), said all coun­tries should “waste no time” in en­sur­ing all HIV pos­i­tive peo­ple are of­fered im­me­di­ate treat­ment. The re­port iden­ti­fied 35 coun­tries that ac­count for 90 per­cent of all new HIV in­fec­tions. Fo­cus­ing on them would have the great­est im­pact and reap huge ben­e­fits, it said. — Reuters

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