U.N. Goal of ‘Universal Access’ to Antiretrovirals Unlikely To Be Reached Worldwide
The United Nations' goal of providing universal access to antiretroviral drugs by 2010 is unlikely to be reached by some countries, Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, said on Wednesday at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. The 2010 target was agreed to at a 2006 United Nations General Assembly meeting and later supported by the Group of Eight industrialized nations.
Kazatchkine and Piot said they believe U.N. members are still committed to the target, but they doubt the goal would be reached by every country. "2010 is 18 months from now. What we've seen is that in a number of countries, they've already reached their universal access targets, others not." According to Piot's spokesperson, some countries could achieve universal access in 2011 or 2012, which is in line with their national programs. Kazatchkine said, "When we look at global targets, none of us believes that it will be 100% everywhere," adding, "But if you look at individual countries, and if you look at the percent that have achieved universal coverage or (will) be close to universal coverage, there may be much more than you think of."
According to AFP/Yahoo! News, three million HIV-positive people have access to antiretrovirals as a result of a large scale-up in treatment access in the last two years, but only about one-third of the people who need drugs worldwide are receiving them. HIV/AIDS advocates "closely scrutinized" the G8's July 2008 statement on increased HIV/AIDS spending and last week's UNAIDS report on the state of the pandemic, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Some advocates said they see a "weakening" of commitment to the 2010 target and a "dangerous slippage" to 2015, which is also the end date for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals on reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, AFP Yahoo! News reports. Piot said the 2010 goal "has not changed whatsoever."
Costs of Universal Access
Kazatchkine and Piot also said that new ideas are needed for addressing the increasing cost of providing antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive people who need them. According to estimates, universal access will cost $54 billion annually by 2015, a figure that could increase as people living with HIV/AIDS continue taking antiretrovirals for the rest of their lives.
Kazatchkine suggested that growing economies such as China, India and Mexico could begin to take on more of their costs for treating HIV-positive people, thus freeing up resources for lower-income countries. Kazatchkine said he looks to G8 members, which account for 90% of Global Fund contributions, to meet their commitments (Ingham, AFP/Yahoo! News, 8/6).
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