New Delhi: Over four million HIV positive people in low–and middle income countries received antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2008, a 36 per cent jump over the previous year and a 10–fold increase over five years.
According to a report jointly launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV–AIDS (UNAIDS), tremendous progress in the global HIV–AIDS response was noticed, WHO Director–General Margaret Chan said.
“But we need to do more. At least five million people living with HIV still do not have access to life–prolonging treatment and care. Prevention services fail to reach many in need. Governments and international partners must accelerate their efforts to achieve universal access to treatment,” Chan said.
India has an estimated 2.3 million people living with HIV and AIDS – there are 800,000 HIV people registered for treatment, of which 270,000 people are on ART.
The Indian government has set a target of reaching out to over 300,000 adults and 40,000 children by 2012. At the moment, only 14,000 children are getting the therapy.
“Access to antiretroviral therapy continues to expand at a rapid rate. Of the estimated 9.5 million people in need of treatment in 2008 in low–and middle–income countries, 42 per cent had access, up from 33 per cent in 2007,” the report showed.
It said that the greatest progress was seen in sub–Saharan Africa, where two–thirds of all HIV infections occur, reports IANS.
“Prices of the most commonly used antiretroviral drugs have declined significantly in recent years, contributing to wider availability of treatment,” it added.
According to the report, “Despite recent progress, access to treatment services is falling far short of need and the global economic crisis has raised concerns about their sustainability”.
“Many patients are being diagnosed at a late stage of disease progression resulting in delayed initiation of ART and high rates of mortality in the first year of treatment,” it said.
Though there had been improvement in the expansion of HIV testing and counselling and improved access to services to prevent transmission from mother to child, a majority of those living with HIV remain unaware of their HIV status, the report said.