Remarkable progress is being made on HIV treatment. Ahead of World AIDS Day, UNAIDS has launched a new report showing that access to treatment has risen significantly. In 2000, just 685 000 people living with HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy. By June 2017, around 20.9 million people had access to the life-saving medicines. Such a dramatic scale-up could not have happened without the courage and determination of people living with HIV demanding and claiming their rights, backed up by steady, strong leadership and financial commitment.
WHO evidence brief: The importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights to prevent HIV in adolescent girls and young women in eastern and southern Africa
Over the last several years, countries in the eastern and southern Africa (ESA) region have made significant and commendable progress in preventing mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and in scaling up HIV treatment efforts. However, despite these gains, there have been no significant reductions in new HIV infections and the region continues to be the hardest hit by the epidemic, highlighting the need to place stronger emphasis on HIV prevention.
The global agenda for sustainable development includes a target of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Experience to date shows the significant progress that can be achieved in the AIDS response through the mobilization of scientific knowledge, political will, financial resources and civil society. To achieve this ambitious objective, UNAIDS has called on all countries to harness the next several years (until 2020) as a key window of opportunity for rapidly scaling up the HIV response in three main areas: HIV prevention, HIV testing and HIV treatment.
Diagnosis and monitoring of HIV programmes to support treatment initiation and follow up and improve programme quality
The much-discussed HIV ‘cascade of care’ has demonstrated marked loss between HIV diagnosis, linkage and initiation of antiretroviral treatment (ART), compromising mortality and morbidity benefits to the individual, as well as public health prevention impact. As large-scale programmes provide more long-term data, opportunities have arisen to reduces losses across the cascade.
In this report, UNAIDS is announcing that 18.2 million people now have access to HIV treatment. The Fast-Track response is working. Increasing treatment coverage is reducing AIDS-related deaths among adults and children. But the life-cycle approach has to include more than just treatment. Tuberculosis (TB) remains among the commonest causes of illness and death among people living with HIV of all ages, causing about one third of AIDS-related deaths in 2015. These deaths could and should have been prevented.