Global Gains in AIDS Fight, but Challenges Remain
June 9, 2008
Although progress had been made, delegates at the recent international AIDS conference in Kampala, Uganda, recognized the need to find new ways to fight the spread of HIV and increase access to treatment. The HIV/AIDS Implementers Meeting was organized by UN agencies and the US Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
According to UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director Michel Sidibe, progress has been made. There has been a downward trend for the past six years, he said. He added that some 2.2 million people, 1.7 million in Africa, are dying each year compared to an earlier figure of 2.9 million, with 2.2 million in Africa.
The reason for this downturn is that We have increased the number of people on treatment during the past six years where we saw broader programs, more resources committed to the epidemic, and prices going down for the drugs, Sidibe said.
A June 2 joint report from WHO, UNAIDS, and UNICEF stated that by the end of 2007, nearly 3 million people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving AIDS drugs.
However, Sidibe cited as ongoing challenges the number of new infections, unpredictable sources of funding, and the fact that some 6 million AIDS patients are still not receiving treatment. Annual HIV infections in Uganda alone now stand at 130,000, up from less than 90,000 three years ago. The global total of new infections, mostly from Africa, stands at 3.5 annually million.
UN officials say that as more people are put on antiretroviral therapy, more demand for treatment is created, putting pressure on existing national health programs that are often overburdened. As a result, poor nations in Africa might not purchase expensive second-line treatment drugs, according to Sidibe. He also said more preventative measures are essential.
6.06.2008; Henry Wasswa