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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid