1.65 Million Worldwide Now Receiving Antiretrovirals; More Children, Pregnant Women Need Drug Access, World Health Organization Says
August 17, 2006
The number of people in sub-Saharan Africa with access to antiretroviral drugs has increased tenfold in three years, and 1.65 million people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving the drugs by the end of June, according to World Health Organization data released on Wednesday at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, London's Guardian reports (Boseley, Guardian, 8/17). Overall, 24% of the people in urgent need of HIV/AIDS treatment worldwide have access to the drugs, according to WHO (Fox, Reuters U.K., 8/16). "The combined efforts of donors, affected nations, U.N. agencies and public health authorities are providing substantial, ongoing increases in access to lifesaving HIV treatment," Kevin De Cock, head of WHO, said, adding, "While the 76% still untreated represents a predominantly empty glass, trends in scale-up nonetheless have been encouraging in the areas with the most people with HIV" (Duff-Brown, AP/Yahoo! News, 8/16). De Cock said although the treatment target of WHO's 3 by 5 Initiative -- which aimed to provide treatment for three million HIV-positive people in developing countries with antiretrovirals by the end of 2005 -- was not achieved, the initiative "helped change the landscape for HIV/AIDS treatment internationally forever" (Guardian, 8/17). De Cock declined to give an estimate of when the 3 by 5 goal would be met. He said that the first one million people in need of treatment are the easiest to reach because drug distribution programs typically begin in urban areas but that delivering drugs in rural areas is a "more difficult task and may take longer" (Altman, New York Times, 8/17). Jim Kim -- former director of WHO's HIV/AIDS Department and a professor of medicine at Harvard University -- on Wednesday said that he expects the 3 by 5 treatment target will be met by the end of 2007. He added that treatment efforts have increased in recent months, fueling hopes that the target will be reached by next year (Smith, Boston Globe, 8/17). According to De Cock, providing increased access to treatment also requires trained health workers, which many developing countries lack (New York Times, 8/17). De Cock also said another challenge would be to ensure sufficient funding to provide long-term treatment to the increasing number of people receiving antiretrovirals (Branswell, CP/CBC News, 8/16).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2006 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
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