Kaisernetwork.org Daily Video Round Up From XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Wednesday, Aug. 16
Achieving universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment was a major focus Wednesday at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, and World Health Organization HIV/AIDS Director Kevin De Cock reported significant increases in the number of HIV-positive people with access to antiretroviral drugs.
"Of the global total of 38.6 million persons living with HIV, approximately 6.8 million in low- and middle-income countries currently require antiretroviral therapy," De Cock said. "WHO estimates that by end of June 2006, some 1.65 million persons in need were accessing [antiretroviral therapy] with an overall coverage of 24%," he added.
More than one million HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa receive antiretrovirals, but the vast majority of people there lack access to the drugs, according to De Cock. He also said that treatment access quickly needs to be expanded quickly because the number of people in need of treatment also is rising.
While a recent study shows that antiretrovirals have saved an estimated three million years of life in the U.S., current efforts to broaden treatment availability globally are falling short, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said. "That's where we start getting in trouble because that is not enough," Fauci said, adding, "And the reason it's not enough is that a large portion of the world has still not yet gotten the advantage of those scientific advances."
Fourteen percent of new HIV cases globally are in children younger than age 15, and most contract it from their mothers, Ruth Nduati of the University of Nairobi said. According to WHO, an estimated 800,000 HIV-positive children worldwide are in need of treatment, but fewer than 100,000 are receiving it.
Nduati talked about the situation in sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the world's HIV-positive children live. "This epidemic is evolving in the midst of a chronic crisis of child health and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa," Nduati said, adding, "And the problems of poverty aggravate the HIV epidemic, and the HIV epidemic in turn aggravates the poverty."
Hydeia Broadbent, who was born HIV-positive in the U.S. 22 years ago and was told she would not live beyond age five, said that parents need to communicate with their children. "I think it is important that everyone know, your kids, we're the future. We really are," Broadbent said. "And if we're not educated, we're not going to have a bright future" (Braden Balderas, kaisernetwork.org, 8/17).
A kaisernetwork.org daily video round up from the conference for Aug. 15 is available online.