I. Responding to AIDS
July 6, 2004
AIDS is an extraordinary kind of crisis; it is both an emergency and a long-term development issue. Despite increased funding, political commitment and progress in expanding access to HIV treatment, the AIDS epidemic continues to outpace the global response. No region of the world has been spared. The epidemic remains extremely dynamic, growing and changing character as the virus exploits new opportunities for transmission.
Rates of infection are still on the rise in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2003 alone, an estimated 3 million people in the region became newly infected. New epidemics appear to be advancing unchecked in other places, notably Eastern Europe and Asia -- regions that are experiencing the fastest-growing epidemics in the world.
More than 20 years and 20 million deaths since the first AIDS diagnosis in 1981, almost 38 million people (range 34.6-42.3 million) are living with HIV. Even though the cure is elusive, we have learned crucial lessons about what works best in preventing new infections and improving the quality and care for people living with HIV. There have been some major developments, including antiretroviral medicines.
Despite these signs of progress, there are still huge challenges to turning the tide of this epidemic. Funding has greatly increased but is still only half of what is needed and is not always effectively utilized. Many national leaders remain in denial about the impact of AIDS on their people and societies.
Today we are faced with life and death choices. Without major action, the global epidemic will continue to outstrip the response. But there is an alternative: together we can forge policies grounded in science, not political rhetoric, and embark boldly on the "Next Agenda" -- an agenda for future action based on innovative approaches.
What Are the Major Challenges?
In addition to providing up-to-date global, regional and country data, the report releases new estimates on global resources needed to effectively combat the epidemic in the developing world. For the first time, the revised estimates reflect data obtained from 78 countries, many on the frontlines of the AIDS epidemic.
Although global spending on AIDS has increased 15-fold from US$300 million in 1996 to just under US$5 billion in 2003, it is less than half of what will be needed by 2005 in developing countries. According to newly revised costing estimates, an estimated US$12 billion (up from US$10 billion) will be needed by 2005 and US$20 billion by 2007 for prevention and care in low- and middle-income countries.
The estimated US$20 billion would provide antiretroviral therapy to just over six million people (over four million in sub-Saharan Africa), support for 22 million orphans, HIV voluntary counselling and testing for 100 million adults, school-based AIDS education for 900 million students and peer counselling services for 60 million young people not in school. About 43% of these resources will be needed in sub-Saharan Africa, 28% in Asia, 17% in Latin American and the Caribbean, 9% in Eastern Europe, and 1% in North Africa and the Near East.
Fully funding the response to AIDS will require an extraordinary effort, which cannot be met from currently planned regular domestic and international development budgets. It will require extraordinary leadership and will have to use currently untapped resources.
This article was provided by UNAIDS. It is a part of the publication 2004 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic. Visit UNAIDS' website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.