The UN says more coverage of AIDS treatment is needed to reduce the death-toll. Ever since HIV/AIDS emerged in the 1960’s scientists have had to fight an up-hill battle to find a cure. In recent decades, anti-viral drugs have been developed to inhibit the complete body take over of the virus to give HIV positive patients more time to live.
In developed countries, the cost of these drugs has decisively decreased to make the yearly cost more accessible, but this is not the case world wide. The UN has recently come out with a news report confirming that in underdeveloped countries a need to increase coverage of the anti-viral treatments will be the key to success in lowering the deaths from HIV/AIDS.
The two main ways that have been identified to advance the progress of stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS are sexual education and anti-viral drugs. Sexual education provides populations with the information they need to protect themselves while the drugs themselves provide a medical temporary solution. Sexual Education is specifically important because although the drugs may inhibit the progression of the virus, they do not actually cure it. Only when people learn about this fatal infection can they be aware of how it is transmitted, and then protect themselves.
Evidence suggests that these two methods can be very effective, as great milestones have been reached already, with a decline in HIV/AIDS related deaths by 700,000 in the last two years worldwide. Even more impressive is the decrease in new infections by 400,000 in the same time frame. This is the largest decline the virus has seen since its initial appearance. This is a time to celebrate, to be sure, but when there is success, it is important to reflect on what can still be done better.
Dr. Luiz Loures, deputy executive director of programme for UNAIDS has made an official call for an increase in treatment coverage saying, “There are more people under treatment than ever before … Infections are coming down … but we have a risk today of continuing to leave individuals and regions behind, regions like Eastern Europe, like the Middle East. “
The areas and populations Dr. Luiz Loures mentioned are key high-risk groups. The cost of annual treatment in underdeveloped countries, is almost 10 times that of what a North American would pay. Ironically, it is these same people that have incomes that often struggle to cover food, let alone extraordinary medical expenses. Where fantastic leaps and bounds have been made in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa with HIV/AIDS infections and deaths exhibiting an overall decline in the millions, the Middle East and Northern Africa are still rising drastically. In these areas, political support is needed to increase funding for sexual education and to subsidise anti-viral drug plans for the infected.
UN experts and the scientific community have reached a point of celebration but the battle is not over yet. In order to finally achieve success in defeating the AIDS virus, anti-viral treatments and sexual education must be made more available in the high-risk areas.
By Romana Outerbridge