African countries leading global efforts to provide HIV care

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Several African countries, including Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Rwanda, have nearly met the international objectives of providing universal care for people living with HIV/AIDS, according to a joint UN assessment report released Tuesday.
The report, by three UN agencies, indicated that significant progress had been made in several low- and middle-income countries in increasing access to HIV/AIDS services.
Botswana is among the 15 countries, which also include, Guyana and South Africa, which were able to provide more than 80 per cent of HIV-positive pregnant women in need, the services and medicines to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, according to the report.
Namibia is listed among the 14 countries, including Brazil and Ukraine, which have provided HIV treatment to more than 80 per cent of the HIV-positive children in need.
Rwanda is also listed as one of the eight countries, including Cambodia and Cuba, which have achieved universal access to antiretroviral treatment (ART) for adults.
The report was produced by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Titled: "Towards Universal Access", it is the fourth annual report for track ing progress made in achieving the 2010 target of providing universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care, according to a joint statement issued by the three UN agencies.
The report noted that countries in all parts of the world were demonstrating that universal access was achievable, said Dr.
Hirok Nakatani, WHO's Assistant Director-General for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Eastern and Southern Africa, the region most severely affected by HIV, offers hope, the report found.
In this region, HIV treatment coverage has increased from 32 per cent to 41 per cent in one year, while half of the pregnant women were able to access HIV testing and counselling in 2009.
"We're on the right track, we have shown what works and now we need to do mo re of it," said Dr.
Paul De Lay, Deputy Executive Director, Programme, UNAIDS.
"But we are US$10 billion short.
At the Global Fund replenishment conference in New York next week, countries have a chance to put this right - to make a smart investment and secure the future of the AIDS response.
" In 2009, 5.
25 million people had access to HIV treatment in low- and middle- income countries, accounting for 36 per cent of those in need.
This represents an increase of over 1.
2 million people from December 2008, the largest increase in any single year.
In Africa, close to one million more people started on ART, the number increasing from 2.
95 million at the end of 2008 to 3.
91 million at the end of 2009, covering 37 per cent of those in need.

28 september 2010 15:40:00

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