UN: UNAIDS says 18.2 million people on anti-retroviral therapy

New York, US (PANA) - A new report by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) on Monday stated that countries are getting on the UNAIDS' Fast-Track Approach, with an additional one million people accessing treatment in just six months (January to June 2016).

In a statement on the report, which was launched in Windhoek, Namibia, UNAIDS said: "By June 2016, around 18.2 million (16.1 million–19.0 million) people had access to the life-saving medicines, including 910,000 children, double the number five years earlier."

"If these efforts are sustained and increased, the world will be on track to achieve the target of 30 million people on treatment by 2020," it noted.

The "Get on the Fast-Track: the life-cycle approach to HIV" report was launched by Namibian President Hage Geingob and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé.  

"Just under two years ago, 15 million people were accessing anti-retroviral treatment - today more than 18 million are on treatment and new HIV infections among children continue to fall," said Geingob.

"Now, we must ensure that the world stays on the Fast-Track to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 in Namibia, in Africa and across the world."

On his part, Sidibe stated: "The report contains detailed data on the complexities of HIV and reveals that girls’ transition to womanhood is a very dangerous time, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and it also noted that young women are facing a triple threat.

"Young women are at high risk of HIV infection, have low rates of HIV testing, and have poor adherence to treatment.The world is failing young women and we urgently need to do more."

He said that HIV prevention is key to ending the AIDS epidemic among young women and the cycle of HIV infection needs to be broken.

Sidibe noted that recent data from South Africa showed that young women are acquiring HIV from adult men, while men acquire HIV much later in life after they transition into adulthood and continue the cycle of new infections.

The report also showed that the life-extending impact of treatment is working.

"In 2015, there were more people over the age of 50 living with HIV than ever before - 5.8 million,"  said the report, highlighting that if treatment targets were reached, that number was expected to soar to 8.5 million by 2020.

"Older people living with HIV, however, have up to five times the risk of chronic disease and a comprehensive strategy is needed to respond to increasing long-term health-care costs," it said.  

The report also warned of the risk of drug resistance and the need to reduce the costs of second- and third-line treatments.

It said emphasized the need for more synergies with tuberculosis (TB), human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, and hepatitis C programmes in order to reduce the major causes of illness and death among people living with HIV.

"In 2015, 440,000 of the 1.1 million people who died from an AIDS-related illness died from TB, including 40,000 children," it revealed.

UNAID chief said: "The progress we have made is remarkable, particularly around treatment, but it is also incredibly fragile, and new threats are emerging and if we do not act now we risk resurgence and resistance. We have seen this with TB. We must not make the same mistakes again."

The report outlined that large numbers of people at higher-risk of HIV infection and people living in high-burden areas were being left without access to HIV services at critical points in their lives, opening the door to new HIV infections and increasing the risk of dying from AIDS-related illnesses.

The report examined the gaps and approaches needed in HIV programming across the life cycle and offered tailored HIV prevention and treatment solutions for every stage of life.

It also highlighted that of the 150,000 children who were newly infected with HIV in 2015, around half were infected through breastfeeding.

According to the report, infection through breastfeeding could be avoided if mothers living with HIV were supported to continue taking anti-retroviral medicines, allowing them to breastfeed safely and ensure that their children received the important protective benefits of breastmilk.

UNAIDS leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infection, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

-0-  PANA  AA/AR   21Nov2016

21 نوفمبر 2016 19:02:09

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