Governments, Donors Falling Short of Antiretroviral Treatment Goals, Report Says
Governments and international donors are falling short of their goals of providing antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people in developing countries who need them, according to a report released on Tuesday by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, the International Herald Tribune reports. The United Nations and the Group of Eight industrialized nations by 2010 aim to have 9.8 million people worldwide receiving antiretroviral treatment, but current trends indicate that the world will miss that goal by five million people, the report -- titled "Missing the Target #3: Stagnation in AIDS Treatment Scale Up Puts Millions of Lives at Risk" -- said. For the report, researchers examined six countries with high HIV prevalence -- the Dominican Republic, Kenya, India, Nigeria, Russia and South Africa -- and found "disappointing" results in all of them, the Tribune reports. According to the report, 5,595 children in India have been diagnosed as HIV-positive, although experts say about 200,000 children in the country are living with the virus. In Nigeria, fewer than 100,000 people are being treated with antiretroviral drugs despite the government's goal of having more than 200,000 people on treatment by the middle of this year, the report said. The report also said women and children are missing out the most on antiretroviral treatment. Programs focusing on preventing mother-to-child transmission are reaching 9% of HIV-positive women in Africa, although the drugs are inexpensive and available, according to the report (Rosenthal, International Herald Tribune, 11/28).
The report calls for urgent and specific action to avoid immense shortfalls on global HIV/AIDS commitments (ITPC release, 11/28). HIV/AIDS advocates also are calling for prevention and treatment programs to focus more on girls and women. According to Mary Robinson, former U.N. high commissioner for human rights, young girls are five times as likely to become HIV-positive as boys (International Herald Tribune, 11/28). "The rhetoric from public health officials is good, but the follow-through is abysmal," Gregg Gonsalves, who coordinated the report, said, adding, "We are woefully behind our targets" (Columbia State, 11/29). "The time for incremental efforts is over," Stephen Lewis, U.N. special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, said, adding, "The international community must now finally keep its word and mobilize for global AIDS treatment delivery. By scaling up AIDS treatment we will be saving millions of lives, transforming communities and advancing HIV prevention." According to Lewis, "It is a moral imperative that global leaders and institutions keep their promises and scale up AIDS services with urgency and increased resources" (ITPC release, 11/28).