Experts say world on the brink of beating AIDS

October 05, 2015

The fourth International AIDS Society Conference on HIV is being attended by more than 133 countries and some of the world's leading AIDS researchers who say celebrations are not in order as some of the advances in HIV treatments are still not universally accessible.

They say many living with the disease do not have access to the best drugs and because of this 3 million people are dying every year from a disease which is treatable.

According to leading international AIDS researchers attending the conference, the world will not be able to celebrate the tremendous advances in HIV treatments until universal drug access is made available for all who are living with the disease.

The president of the International AIDS Society, Pedro Cahn, says 11,000 people are still contracting HIV/AIDS every day despite the fact that science has the tools to prevent and treat HIV effectively.

He says, that the science has not been translated into practice, is a shameful failure on the part of the global community.

Advancements in AIDS treatments have ensured that people with the disease now live longer, fuller lives and in 2006 as many as 2 million people in developing countries living with HIV were receiving anti retroviral drugs to manage their disease, a rise of over 50% from the previous year.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says of the estimated 60 million infections that will occur by 2015 half of them are expected to be preventable with already known and proven methods.

Dr. Fauci believes society will judge the success of the extraordinary accomplishments not by the last 26 years but rather by the next 20-26 years; he says a successful effort cannot be sustained without prevention.

Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, says 2.2 million lives had been saved in a recent global increase in drug therapy in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Russia and eastern Europe.

But he says more money is needed to deliver anti-retroviral drugs to the 70 per cent plus patients in poor countries still without access to drug treatment; anti-retroviral drugs block the AIDS virus but do not kill it, so they must be taken for life.

The Global Fund was set up five years ago to accelerate HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention worldwide.

The Fund administers about $US8 billion ($9 billion) in funds provided by governments and private philanthropists such as Microsoft's founder, Bill Gates.

According to the United Nations $US18 billion will be needed globally for HIV/AIDS next year and more than $US22 billion a year by 2010, which as Dr. Kazatchkine says is a tiny percentage of the $US2 trillion of new wealth generated worldwide each year.

Dr. Kazatchkine has called on the Australian Government to at least triple its contribution to HIV/AIDS because it was contributing far less than other Western nations.

It is estimated that since the 1980s as many as 25 million people have died of AIDS-related diseases, and about 40 million are living with HIV/AIDS.

In Asia anti-retroviral treatment is available to only 15 to 20 per cent of patients, and some governments are still in denial about the threat the disease poses.