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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid