UNAIDS report showed at the end of 2015 an estimated 17 million people were accessing life-saving antiretroviral medicines, with an additional 2 million people gaining access over a 12-month period.
This announcement is made in a new UNAIDS report titled Global AIDS update 2016, comes as world leaders prepare to gather for the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, to take place in New York, United States of America, from 8 to 10 June 2016.
The extraordinary scale-up of antiretroviral treatment since 2010 by many of the world’s most affected countries has reduced AIDS-related deaths from 1.5 million in 2010 [1.3 million–1.7 million] to 1.1 million [940 000–1.3 million] in 2015. As more countries adopt new guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) to treat everyone diagnosed with HIV immediately, public health benefits are being realized for individuals and for wider society.
“The full potential of antiretroviral therapy is being realized,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “I urge all countries to seize this unprecedented opportunity to put HIV prevention and treatment programmes on the Fast-Track and end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.”
Global coverage of antiretroviral therapy reached 46% [43–50%] at the end of 2015. Gains were greatest in the world’s most affected region, eastern and southern Africa, where coverage increased from 24% [22–25%] in 2010 to 54% [50–58%] in 2015, reaching a total of 10.3 million people. In South Africa, 3.4 million people had access to treatment, followed by Kenya with nearly 900 000. Botswana, Eritrea, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe all increased treatment coverage by more than 25 percentage points between 2010 and 2015.
The report was launched in Nairobi, Kenya, one of the countries showing the most remarkable progress in expanding access to antiretroviral medicines and reducing the number of new HIV infections.
“The Kenyan government, in partnership with UNAIDS and other development partners, is committed to the Fast-Track approach to ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030,” said Cleopa Mailu, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health. “We must catalyse investments across different sectors, with a focus on cost-effective and socially inclusive programmes, if we are to succeed.”
The UNAIDS Fast-Track approach to treatment is proven to work in countries adopting it. The momentum must continue to achieve the UNAIDS 90–90–90 treatment target by 2020, whereby 90% of people living with HIV know their status, 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status are accessing treatment and 90% of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads. Reaching the 2020 treatment target will set the world on course to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals