News / Africa

AIDS Alliance: Universal Access Possible

25-year-old South African, Lawrence Jet who is HIV-positive lies on his bed (file photo)
25-year-old South African, Lawrence Jet who is HIV-positive lies on his bed (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

In June a U.N. high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS renewed the commitment to provide universal access to treatment and care.  The goal is to reach 15 million people by 2015.  But is that goal truly attainable with millions more expected to need antiretroviral drugs in coming years?

“We’re a lot closer than we used to be, I think we can say with quite a bit of confidence,” said Christine Stegling, associate director at the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Brighton, England, and senior advisor on human rights.

Nevertheless, she said even if that number is reached, it would still be only 80 percent of those who need treatment.

“So there is a treatment gap, but I think against all the odds we have made a lot of progress in terms of getting people in lower and middle income countries onto antiretroviral treatment,” she said.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is now 30 years old. It’s estimated more than 33 million people are living with the disease.

Same goal, different numbers

At the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, leaders first pledged to achieve universal access by 2010.

“The target was set with a certain cutoff point in mind. I think at the time it was people with a CD4 count below 350 would get on treatment and that’s what we based the targets on," said Stegling.

The fewer the number of CD4 cells immune system cells, the greater the vulnerability to opportunistic infections and cancers.

“Now, the targets for starting treatment have lowered considerably, which obviously widens the group of people who need to be on treatment. Then obviously, over a period of time, there will be more people on treatment. People live longer. And…at the same time if we don’t considerably prevent new HIV infections,  obviously that group of people who has to be on treatment will rise over time,” said Stegling.

There’s growing evidence that the earlier HIV-infected people receive antiretroviral treatment, the better their long-term prospects and the less likely they are to infect others.

Spend wisely

The global recession has caused countries to scale back their funding commitments to HIV/AIDS.

“There is an issue around money, but obviously it is also about identifying the best ways of resourcing treatment and getting cheaper treatment in terms of finding new and innovative ways of providing treatment to people, which may not be brand name drugs. It may be drugs that are provided at a considerably lower price,” she said.

Marginalized groups

Health officials and activists say treatment must be aimed at groups that are typically marginalized and victims of stigma and discrimination, namely men who have sex with men, sex workers and injection drug users.

“This is the big breakthrough of the new declaration,” she said, “If we do not reach out to those most marginalized and often most at risk of HIV infection, we’re not going to win the fight against HIV, especially in Africa.”

But that may be easier said than done. Some African countries have strict anti-homosexual laws. The Ugandan parliament recently considered a bill that would have imposed the death penalty for certain acts. It was widely condemned by the international community. No vote was taken on the bill, but it could be reintroduced.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid