Countries Adopt UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy

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An estimated 15.8 million people are now on HIV treatment, a doubling from five years ago as countries adopt the UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy using data to fine tune delivery of HIV prevention and treatment services to reach people being left behind.

Ahead of World AIDS Day 2015, UNAIDS has released a new report showing that countries are getting on the Fast-Track to end AIDS by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. By adapting to a changing global environment and maximizing innovations, countries are seeing greater efficiencies and better results. Progress in responding to HIV over the past 15 years has been extraordinary.

By June 2015, UNAIDS estimates that 15.8 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy, compared to 7.5 million people in 2010 and 2.2 million people in 2005. At the end of 2014, UNAIDS estimates that new HIV infections had fallen by 35% since the peak in 2000 and AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 42% since the 2004 peak.

“Every five years we have more than doubled the number of people on life-saving treatment,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “We need to do it just one more time to break the AIDS epidemic and keep it from rebounding.” The life-changing benefits of antiretroviral therapy mean that people living with HIV are living longer, healthier lives, which has contributed to an increase in the global number of people living with HIV.

At the end of 2014, UNAIDS estimates that 36.9 million people were living with HIV. Once diagnosed, people need immediate access to antiretroviral therapy. Countries are gearing up to double the number of people accessing HIV treatment by 2020. This Fast-Track approach will be instrumental in achieving the UNAIDS 90–90–90 treatment target of ensuring that 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status are on treatment and 90% of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads.

“Today, we have more HIV prevention options than ever before. And with better data, we can become better match makers, finding the right prevention options for the right people,” said Mr. Sidibé. To end AIDS as a public health threat, an accelerated and more focused response is needed using better data to map and reach people in the places where the most new HIV infections occur.

To support countries with this approach, UNAIDS has released a new report focused on location and population: on the Fast-Track to end AIDS by 2030, which gives examples of more than 50 communities, cities and countries that are using innovative approaches to reach more people with comprehensive HIV prevention and treatment services.

Through the responsible use of detailed national data sets, countries are able to focus at a more granular level, mapping where new HIV infections occur and where people need services most. The report demonstrates how countries can redistribute resources to improve access to HIV prevention and treatment services. With the Fast-Track approach and frontloaded investments, gaps are closed faster and resources go further and from 2020 annual resource needs will begin to fall.

The report highlights how high-impact HIV prevention and treatment programs, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis, voluntary medical male circumcision and sexual and reproductive health services, are being successfully implemented in various locations and for different populations, including adolescent girls and young women and their partners, pregnant women living with HIV, sex workers, transgender people, gay men and other men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.

In the report UNAIDS identifies 35 Fast-Track countries that account for 90 percent of new HIV infections. Focusing on location and population and programs that deliver the greatest impact will reap huge benefits by 2030: 21 million AIDS-related deaths averted; 28 million new HIV infections averted; and 5.9 million new infections among children averted. “Everyone has the right to a long and healthy life,” said Mr. Sidibé.

“We must take HIV services to the people who are most affected, and ensure that these services are delivered in a safe, respectful environment with dignity and free from discrimination.”

The report shows that areas with fewer numbers of people living with HIV and lower HIV prevalence are more likely to have discriminatory attitudes than areas that have more cases of HIV.

This seemingly contradictory result is explained by education and understanding about HIV usually being higher in countries where HIV is more prevalent and where more people are receiving treatment. However, these discriminatory attitudes make it more difficult for people in low-prevalence areas to come forward to seek HIV services for fear of stigma and reprisals.

Adopting the UNAIDS Fast-Track approach through strong leadership and investment within the communities, cities and countries most affected, the AIDS epidemic can be ended by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In 2014/2015 an estimated: 15.8 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy (June 2015) 36.9 million [34.3 million–41.4 million] people globally were living with HIV (end 2014) 2 million [1.9 million–2.2 million] people became newly infected with HIV (end 2014) 1.2 million [980 000–1.6 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses.

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