Governments, Donors Falling Short of Goal To Provide No-Cost Antiretroviral Access, Report Says
Governments and international donors are falling short of their goal to provide no-cost antiretroviral drug access to the HIV-positive people in developing countries who need them, according to a report released on Wednesday by the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, Reuters reports.
The Group of Eight industrialized nations at the close of its summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, in June pledged to provide five million HIV-positive people worldwide with drug access by 2010, but current trends indicate that the world will miss that goal, the report said (Perry, Reuters, 7/18). The report analyzed HIV/AIDS treatment access in 17 countries, nine of which are in Africa (Maphosa, VOA News, 7/18).
Gregg Gonsalves of ITPC in a statement said, "Free treatment is not truly free in most countries surveyed." He added, "Charges for diagnostic tests, medical care and other services are putting lifesaving care out of the reach of many thousands of people."
The report also said there are challenges associated with providing drug access to marginalized groups, children and rural populations. It also found that there are drug access issues related to transportation, HIV/AIDS-related stigma and the high cost of antiretrovirals, Reuters reports. "Tripling the annual growth rate of treatment access from today's 700,000 to two million new people on treatment each year is both possible and necessary to meet the G8 commitment of coming close to universal access by 2010," according to the report.
Cambodia, which has about 134,000 HIV-positive residents, is a "success story" in increasing treatment access, the report said. Antiretrovirals became available in the country in 2004, and there now are 40 centers providing treatment to about 21,900 HIV-positive people, the report found. However, the report added that there still is a "large but silent minority" of marginalized people in Cambodia who do not receive treatment access, including commercial sex workers, Vietnamese citizens and people living in remote areas and slums. Other countries -- including China, India and South Africa -- have treatment programs in place but face obstacles to meet the goal of universal access, according to the report (Reuters, 7/18).
The report called on UNAIDS and the World Health Organization to be more vocal when treatment targets are not met, national programs are mismanaged or vulnerable populations are neglected, VOA News reports. It also urged the agencies to develop plans to provide testing technology, eliminate antiretroviral shortages and integrate HIV prevention and tuberculosis services (VOA News, 7/18).
The report is available online. Note: You need Adobe Acrobat to view this report.