New UN framework to give 15 million people access to HIV treatment - The UN on Saturday launched a new framework which seeks to give 15 million people with HIV/AIDS access to anti-retroviral treatment by the year 2015.
The framework, entitled: 'Treatment 2015', offers countries and partners practical and innovative ways to increase the number of people accessing anti-retroviral medicines that will enable those living with HIV to live longer and healthier lives, as well as help prevent new infections.
The PANA correspondent in New York, quoted Mr. Michel Sidibe, the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), as saying that reaching the 2015 target will be a critical milestone.
Mr. Sidibe said that countries and partners needed to urgently and strategically invest resources and efforts to ensure that everyone had access to HIV prevention and treatment services.
He noted that 'Treatment 2015' took into account the new consolidated guidelines on the use of anti-retroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection released last month by the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO had recommended that people living with HIV start anti-retroviral therapy (ART) much earlier.
WHO Director-General, Ms. Margaret Chan, said: 'The scale up of ART is an unprecedented global success story for public health, and 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'.
According to UNAIDS, nearly 10 million people living with HIV were accessing anti-retroviral treatment last year, and the target to reach 15 million is a push to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) that seeks to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS by the 2015 deadline.
The framework noted that 30 countries accounted for 9 out of 10 people who were eligible for anti-retroviral therapy but who did not have access.
The new strategy emphasized the importance of HIV testing and counselling as a gateway to expand access to anti-retroviral therapy in these 30 countries, and outlined three pillars essential to reaching the 2015 target.
They consist of increasing demand for HIV testing and treatment services, mobilizing resources and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of spending and ensuring more people have access to anti-retroviral therapy.
In addition, the framework highlights that community testing campaigns have proven to be particularly effective in countries like Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.
UNAIDS said in a statement that community health workers had the capacity to provide almost 40 per cent of HIV service-related tasks.
It added that HIV testing and treatment services needed to be decentralized to promote easier access, and under-served populations needed to be targeted to receive access to this life-saving treatment.