Will a 'Fast-Track' Approach against AIDS Over Five Years Be Enough to Avert 21 Million Deaths, End Epidemic by 2030?


Human Wrongs Watch

Four months ago, the head of the UN agency dealing with HIV and AIDS urged world leaders at an international conference in Australia to end the hypocrisy on sex and make treatment and reproductive health education universally available. Now, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) says that taking a fast-track approach in the battle against AIDS over the next five years will avert 21 million deaths and allow the world to end the epidemic by 2030.

Photo: UNAIDS

The report, Fast-Track: ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, outlines a set of targets that would need to be reached by 2020, including 90-90-90: 90 per cent of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status; 90 per cent of people who know their HIV-positive status on treatment; and 90 per cent of people on treatment with suppressed viral loads.*

“We have bent the trajectory of the epidemic,” on 18 November 2014 said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS in a press release. “Now we have five years to break it for good or risk the epidemic rebounding out of control.”

30 Countries Account for 89 per cent of New Infections

The fast-track approach emphasizes the need to focus on the counties, cities and communities most affected by HIV, and recommends that resources be concentrated on the areas with the greatest impact.

In particular, the approach highlights that efforts are needed in the 30 countries that together account for 89 per cent of new HIV infections worldwide.

To fast-track national responses in these 30 priority countries will require extensive mobilization of human, institutional and strategic international partners, as well as significant commitments from both national and international sources, UNAIDS said.

Other targets include reducing the annual number of new HIV infections by more than 75 per cent, to 500,000 in 2020, and achieving zero discrimination.

Adhering to the targets would mean that nearly 28 million new HIV infections would be averted by 2030, UNAIDS said.

The Fast-Track

Source: UNAIDS

By June 2014, some 13.6 million people had access to antiretroviral therapy, which UNAIDS says is a huge step towards ensuring that 15 million people have access by 2015, but still a long way from the fast-track targets. Efforts are particularly needed to close the treatment gap for children.

The report also underscores that investment is critical to achieving the targets. As such, low-income countries will require a peak of $9.7 billion in funding in 2020, and lower-middle-income countries will need $8.7 billion.

Furthermore, international funding support will be needed to supplement domestic investments, particularly in low-income countries, which are currently only funding about 10 per cent of their responses to HIV through domestic sources, UNAIDS said.

Testing and treating adolescents is becoming a critical part of Lesotho’s campaign to fight the third highest HIV prevalence in the world. Photo: IRIN/Mujahid Safodien

Testing and treating adolescents is becoming a critical part of Lesotho’s campaign to fight the third highest HIV prevalence in the world. Photo: IRIN/Mujahid Safodien

Upper-middle-income countries will require $17.2 billion in 2020. In 2013, 80 per cent of upper-middle-income countries were financing their responses to HIV through domestic sources.

“If we invest just $3 dollars a day for each person living with HIV for the next five years we would break the epidemic for good,” Sidibé stressed.

“And we know that each dollar invested will produce a $15 return,” he added.

If sufficient investments are achieved, global resource needs will start to reduce from 2020. By 2030, the annual resources required in all low- and middle-income countries will decline to $32.8 billion, down 8 per cent from the $35.6 billion needed in 2020. These resources will provide antiretroviral treatment to twice as many people in 2020 than in 2015, according to the report.

In 2013, UNAIDS estimates that 35 million people globally were living with HIV, while 2.1 million people became newly infected with the virus and 1.5 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses.

The report was launched earlier today at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Mr. Sidibé was joined by actress Charlize Theron, UN Messenger of Peace and Founder of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project. (*Source: UN Release).

On 20 July 2014, the head of the United Nations agency dealing with HIV and AIDS urged world leaders at an international conference in Australia to end the hypocrisy on sex and make treatment and reproductive health education universally available.**

In his opening remarks to the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) received wide applause when he declared, “I’m calling for al end to AIDS by 2030.”

He urged world leaders to “stop the hypocrisy and promote sexual and reproductive health and rights.” (**Read full release here).

2014 Human Wrongs Watch

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