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AIDS pandemic now at 'the beginning of the end'

ONE Campaign says drug access is making the difference, but there's still more to do

Aids report One Campaign

The AIDS pandemic that has killed in excess of 40 million people in the past 30 years is finally coming to end, according to a campaign group fighting HIV.

To mark World Aids Day today the advocacy group ONE Campaign launched its 2014 ONE AIDS Report, in which it claims that the number of people getting access to new AIDS treatments over the past year was higher than the number of people who became infected with HIV.

According to the report 2.3 million people were newly added to AIDS treatment in 2013, rising from 1.6 million people in 2012. This compared to 2.1 million who were newly infected with HIV, a decrease on the previous year's figure of 2.2 million.

As for overall figures, according to UNAIDS there are around 35 million people living with HIV, 13.6 million of whom have access to AIDS drugs.

Despite the encouraging figures the ONE Campaign, warned the milestone does not mean the end of AIDS is imminent.

“Despite the good news, we should not take a victory lap yet,” said Erin Hohlfelder, ONE's director of global health policy. “We've passed the tipping point in the AIDS fight at the global level, but not all countries are there yet, and the gains made can easily stall or unravel.”

Key to keeping the figures on the right track will be funding. According to the ONE Campaign's report, there is an annual shortfall of $3bn when it comes to the amount of money needed to control HIV infection, with the majority of funding down to three countries - the UK, US and France – and many African governments failing to live up to promises.

Adequate action must also take into account the difficulty of reach the majority of HIV patients, according to the report, as many people with the infection are part of groups that are stigmatises, such as sex workers and people who inject drugs.

More resilient health systems are also recommended by the report, which said the ongoing Ebola outbreak highlights how disease can exploit weak systems and damage progress.

The battle against HIV and AIDS will be helped by several new treatments that have been launched in the past couple of years, including ViiV Healthcare's integrase inhibitor Tivicay (dolutegravir) and Gilead's combination therapy Atripla (tenofovir, emtricitabine and efavirenz).

The European Commission is also supporting action, implementing a two-year HIV and AIDS action plan, which included tackling HIV-related discrimination and improving access to voluntary testing for the disease.

Article by
Kirstie Pickering

1st December 2014

From: Healthcare

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