UN Reports Huge Progress in HIV/AIDS Treatments Worldwide

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Citing “extraordinary” progress in HIV prevention and response in the last 15 years, a new United Nations report found that many countries are adopting the “Fast-Track Strategy” developed by the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), which allows more people to receive timely treatment for HIV, in an effort to end AIDS by 2030, as part of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals.

“Every five years we have more than doubled the number of people on life-saving treatment. We need to do it just one more time to break the AIDS epidemic and keep it from rebounding,” said the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, in a statement.

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Promising Results

The report, titled “Focus on location and population: on the Fast-Track to end AIDS by 2030,” states that an estimated 15.8 million people are receiving HIV treatment or “antiretroviral therapy,” which is double the number from five years ago, through the Fast-Track Strategy, which uses data to fine-tune the delivery of HIV prevention and treatment services to reach people left behind.

UNAIDS noted that the life-changing benefits of antiretroviral therapy mean that people living with HIV are living longer, healthier lives, which has contributed to an increase in the global number of people living with HIV, highlighting the importance of improving immediate access to HIV treatment, once diagnosed.

The report also found that in 2010, 7.5 million people received HIV treatment compared to only 2.2 million people in 2005. Additionally, at the end of 2014, new HIV infections fell by 35 per cent since the peak in 2000, while AIDS-related deaths fell by 42 per cent since the 2004 peak.

The Method

According to the report more than 50 communities, cities and countries are now using innovative approaches to reach more people with comprehensive HIV prevention and treatment services. It further highlighted the need to use better data to map and reach people in the places, where the most new HIV infections occur, in order to end AIDS as a public health threat.

UNAIDS was able to identify 35 countries that adopted the Fast-Track Strategy, which accounts for 90 per cent of new HIV infections.

Additionally, the report highlighted how high-impact HIV prevention and treatment programs – such as pre-exposure prophylaxis, voluntary medical male circumcision and sexual and reproductive health services – are being successfully implemented in various locations and for different populations, including adolescent girls and young women and their partners, pregnant women living with HIV, sex workers, transgender people, gay men and other men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.

The Future

Focusing on location, population and these programs will help in meeting specific targets by 2030, such as averting 21 million AIDS-related deaths, 28 million new HIV infections and 5.9 million new infections among children, according to UNAIDS.

“Today, we have more HIV prevention options than ever before. And with better data, we can become better match makers, finding the right prevention options for the right people,” said Mr Sidibé highlighting efforts made by countries gearing up to double the number of people accessing HIV treatment by 2020.

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UNAIDS said that the fast-track approach will be instrumental in achieving the ‘90-90-90 treatment target’, which ensures that 90 percent of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90 per cent of people who know their HIV-positive status are on treatment and 90 per cent of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads.

“Everyone has the right to a long and healthy life. We must take HIV services to the people who are most affected, and ensure that these services are delivered in a safe, respectful environment with dignity and free from discrimination,” Mr Sidibé concluded.

The UNAIDS report comes just days ahead of World AIDS Day, celebrated around the world on December 1 each year and used to raise awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories, such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.

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