World Must Pick Up Pace in Tackling HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Experts
'The next five years provide a fragile window of opportunity to fast-track the response and end the AIDS epidemic by 2030,' says UN official
New HIV infections are not declining quickly enough, and the epidemic could dramatically worsen within the next five years if the world doesn't pick up the pace on prevention and treatment efforts, researchers with the UNAIDS-Lancet Commission warned in a report released Thursday.
"We must face hard truths—if the current rate of new HIV infections continues, merely sustaining the major efforts we already have in place will not be enough to stop deaths from AIDS increasing within five years in many countries," said Professor Peter Piot, co-chair of the Commission and lead author of the report.
"Expanding sustainable access to treatment is essential, but we will not treat ourselves out of the AIDS epidemic," Piot continued. "We must also reinvigorate HIV prevention efforts, particularly among populations at highest risk, while removing legal and societal discrimination."
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The report calls for global solidarity and international support for those nations and people hardest hit by the crisis.
"Among the sobering findings from the report is that sustaining current HIV treatment and prevention efforts would require up to 2% of GDP, and at least a third of total government health expenditure, in the most affected African countries from 2014 to 2030 to fund HIV programs," UNAIDS states in an overview of the study. "This clearly demonstrates that international support to the AIDS efforts in these countries will be needed for many years to come."
"However," the summary continues, "there is also a pressing need to ensure that people are not left behind in middle-income countries, which can and must do more to sustain their HIV prevention and care programming in higher risk, often marginalized populations."
"We have to act now," said Michel Sidibé, executive director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). "The next five years provide a fragile window of opportunity to fast-track the response and end the AIDS epidemic by 2030."
The study follows a report from UNICEF issued earlier this month which finds that the AIDS epidemic "continues to take a staggering toll, especially in sub-Saharan Africa." Roughly 35 million people across the world were living with HIV in 2013, 3.2 million of them children under the age of 15.