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

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid