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UNAIDS urges countries to rapidly scale up access to antiretroviral medicines to maximize HIV treatment and prevention gains

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ABUJA, Nigeria /GENEVA, 13 July 2013

—The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has launched a new framework to accelerate action in reaching 15 million people with antiretroviral treatment by 2015–– the goal set by United Nations Member States in 2011. 

The framework, entitled Treatment 2015, offers countries and partners both practical and innovative ways to increase the number of people accessing antiretroviral medicines. These medicines will not only enable people living with HIV to live longer and healthier lives, they will also help prevent new HIV infections.

“Reaching the 2015 target will be a critical milestone,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Countries and partners need to urgently and strategically invest resources and efforts to ensure that everyone has access to HIV prevention and treatment services.” 

Developed in consultation with a range of stakeholders, Treatment 2015 takes into account the new Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection released last month by the World Health Organization (WHO). The guidelines recommend that people living with HIV start antiretroviral therapy (ART) much earlier.

"The scale up of ART is an unprecedented global success story for public health. Maintaining this momentum will require earlier treatment and innovative ways for enabling more people to take the medicine such as the one-pill daily regimen recommended by the new WHO guidelines," said Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. "Substantial further scale-up of access to these medicines provides us with a unique opportunity to push this epidemic into irreversible decline."

“Scaling up access to antiretroviral treatment is critical to achieving an AIDS-free generation,” said Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. “PEPFAR is firmly committed to continue working with partner countries and other stakeholders to help make this vision a reality, but we all must share in the responsibility to get there.”

Treatment 2015 emphasizes the importance of HIV testing and counselling as a gateway to expanding access to antiretroviral therapy and that further efforts are required to normalize HIV testing. It highlights that community testing campaigns have proven to be particularly effective in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.

“We have to work hard to defeat HIV and end it as a public health threat, and it will require concerted effort from all partners to get there,” said Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Treatment 2015 outlines three fundamental pillars essential to reaching the 2015 target; Demand––increasing demand for HIV testing and treatment services; Invest––mobilizing resources and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of spending; and Deliver––ensuring more people have access to antiretroviral therapy.

The report notes that just 30 countries* account for 9 out of 10 people who are eligible for antiretroviral therapy but who do not have access. Treatment 2015 stresses that intensive focus on scaling up HIV services in the 30 countries would have a significant impact on the trajectory of the global AIDS epidemic. The framework also calls for all countries to use the best available data to identify key geographical settings and populations with high HIV prevalence and disproportionate unmet need for antiretroviral therapy.

Treatment 2015 encourages countries to enhance public health programmes and leverage services provided by civil society and community based groups. It outlines that community health workers have the capacity to provide almost 40% of HIV service-related tasks and that HIV testing and treatment services need to be decentralized to promote easier access. The framework also underscores the need to ensure that underserved key populations have equitable access to HIV testing and treatment services.

*Angola, Brazil, China, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Russian Federation, South Africa, South Sudan, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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