SINT MAARTEN – Stakeholders in the fight against HIV/AIDS on the island are preparing to observe World AIDS Day on December 1st. Without a doubt, local stakeholders and public health officials will be pleased to know that there is an effort to fast-track the battle.
Taking a fast-track approach in the battle against AIDS over the next five years will avert 21 million deaths and allow the world to end the epidemic by 2030, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said in a new report.
The report,Fast-Track: ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, outlines a set of targets that would need to be reached by 2020, including90-90-90: 90 per cent of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status; 90 per cent of people who know their HIV-positive status on treatment; and 90 per cent of people on treatment with suppressed viral loads.
“We have bent the trajectory of the epidemic,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS in apress release. “Now we have five years to break it for good or risk the epidemic rebounding out of control.”
The fast-track approach emphasizes the need to focus on the counties, cities and communities most affected by HIV, and recommends that resources be concentrated on the areas with the greatest impact.
In particular, the approach highlights that efforts are needed in the 30 countries that together account for 89 per cent of new HIV infections worldwide. To fast-track national responses in these 30 priority countries will require extensive mobilization of human, institutional and strategic international partners, as well as significant commitments from both national and international sources, UNAIDS said.
Other targets include reducing the annual number of new HIV infections by more than 75 per cent, to 500,000 in 2020, and achieving zero discrimination.
Adhering to the targets would mean that nearly 28 million new HIV infections would be averted by 2030, UNAIDS said.
By June 2014, some 13.6 million people had access to antiretroviral therapy, which UNAIDS says is a huge step towards ensuring that 15 million people have access by 2015, but still a long way from the fast-track targets. Efforts are particularly needed to close the treatment gap for children.
The report also underscores that investment is critical to achieving the targets. As such, low-income countries will require a peak of $9.7 billion in funding in 2020, and lower-middle-income countries will need $8.7 billion.
Furthermore, international funding support will be needed to supplement domestic investments, particularly in low-income countries, which are currently only funding about 10 per cent of their responses to HIV through domestic sources, UNAIDS said.
Upper-middle-income countries will require $17.2 billion in 2020. In 2013, 80 per cent of upper-middle-income countries were financing their responses to HIV through domestic sources.
“If we invest just $3 dollars a day for each person living with HIV for the next five years we would break the epidemic for good,” Mr. Sidibé stressed.
“And we know that each dollar invested will produce a $15 return,” he added.
If sufficient investments are achieved, global resource needs will start to reduce from 2020. By 2030, the annual resources required in all low- and middle-income countries will decline to $32.8 billion, down 8 per cent from the $35.6 billion needed in 2020. These resources will provide antiretroviral treatment to twice as many people in 2020 than in 2015, according to the report.
In 2013, UNAIDS estimates that 35 million people globally were living with HIV, while 2.1 million people became newly infected with the virus and 1.5 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses.