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Global Commitments to Provide Universal Access to HIV/AIDS Treatment Will Not Be Met at Current Pace
Action Aids Report
May 25, 2007


Efforts to provide HIV-positive people in developing countries with universal access to treatment by 2010 will fall short at their current pace, according to a report released on Monday by ActionAid International as part of Global AIDS Week, Reuters reports.

The report, titled "Tackling Political Barriers To End AIDS," says that India, Nigeria and South Africa -- the three countries with the highest numbers of HIV/AIDS cases worldwide -- have some of the lowest percentages of HIV-positive people receiving antiretroviral drugs. India, where about 5.7 million HIV-positive people live, provides drug access to about 7% of people in need, according to the report. About 18% of the people in need of drugs in South Africa, where about 5.4 million people are living with HIV, have access, the report says. It adds that about 10% of people in need of drugs in Nigeria, which has an HIV caseload of about 3.5 million people, have access to them.

The report also found that in African countries such as Gambia, Ethiopia and Ghana, less than 10% of people in need of antiretrovirals have access to them. In addition, Pakistan provides 1.2% of people in need of drugs with access, according to the report. According to the report, about two million of the estimated seven million people currently in need of antiretrovirals are receiving them.

At this rate, five million people worldwide will be provided with antiretroviral access by 2010 -- five million people short of the target for universal access, according to ActionAid (Zaheer, Reuters, 5/21). The report also says that one of the easiest ways to prevent HIV from spreading is to provide HIV-positive pregnant women with access to antiretrovirals to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

"In country after country, progress is staggeringly slow, and with just three years to go to 2010, the world is in danger of missing the target that gave hope to the 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS," Aditi Sharma, international campaign coordinator for HIV/AIDS at ActionAid, said, adding, "Unless leaders back their rhetoric with real action and resources to promote and fulfill women's sexual and reproductive rights, we run the risk of losing the fight against HIV and AIDS."

According to Leonard Okello, head of HIV/AIDS programs at ActionAid, "There can be no effective treatment, care and support without ... well resourced, comprehensive and strengthened primary health care services that reach the poor" (Xinhua News Agency, 5/21).

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