Many Barriers to HIV/AIDS Treatment Delivery Remain Worldwide, Report Says
Although access to treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS around the world has increased over the past six months, there still are significant barriers to achieving universal access to treatment, according to a report released Wednesday by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, a group of 700 HIV/AIDS treatment advocates from more than 100 countries, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports (Lederer, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5/25). The report, titled "Missing the Target -- Off Target for 2010: How to Avoid Breaking the Promise of Universal Access," is the first semi-annual update to a report released in November 2005 that aimed to identify challenges to treatment access worldwide and provide solutions to overcome them. According to the November report, the World Health Organization missed its 3 by 5 Initiative target of treating three million HIV-positive people in developing countries with antiretroviral drugs by the end of 2005 because of a lack of international cooperation and coordination, as well as a lack of national leadership. The latest report says a pledge made by leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations to provide universal HIV/AIDS treatment access by 2010 will not be reached unless government ministers meeting next week at the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS reaffirm their commitment to the goal (ITPC release, 5/24).
The ITPC report -- which was researched and written by HIV/AIDS advocates living in the Dominican Republic, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia and South Africa -- finds that factors such as weak management, poor leadership, food shortages, unsound logistics, stigma and funding shortages are affecting access to HIV/AIDS treatment (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5/25). According to the report, in the Dominican Republic, antiretroviral drugs are not reaching many people in impoverished regions, and the government and donors are not working together to fix the problem; in India, national treatment guidelines are outdated and need to be revised; in Kenya, a food shortage, stigma and low numbers of health care workers are affecting efforts to roll out treatment services; in Nigeria, the suspension of two grants by the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria could jeopardize the country's pledge of universal access to antiretroviral drugs; in Russia, there is a need for services for injection drug users, trained healthcare workers and a campaign to eradicate stigma; and in South Africa, while the number of people receiving treatment has grown, "scale-up efforts continue to lag due to inadquate national leadership" and other factors, the report says. The report calls on donor countries to increase funding to global agencies working to address HIV/AIDS and for changes at global agencies. Specifically, the report urges the Global Fund to identify new strategies to deal with failing grants and poor country coordinating mechanisms; WHO to show concrete outcomes for ambitious national programs; UNAIDS to accelerate progress on efforts to achieve universal treatment access; and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to "end counterproductive policy prescriptions that undermine service delivery" (ITPC release, 5/24).