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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 27, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 30
Lack of funding risks resurgence of HIV, new report says
Section One
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Lack of funding risks resurgence of HIV, new report says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Lack of funding for HIV treatment and prevention risks a resurgence of the HIV epidemic, a new report in The Lancet medical journal says.

The report, compiled by the Lancet Commission, blames a 'dangerous complacency' on the part of world governments for the problem.

Experts quoted in the report warn that the world is no longer on course to halt the epidemic by 2030, a target agreed to by UN member states.

New HIV infections have been falling in recent years, but the Lancet Commission said the fall was happening too slowly to reach the UNAIDS target of only 500,000 new infections by 2020. Currently there are an estimated 1.8 million new cases every year.

While HIV rates were falling overall, they remained persistent in marginalized groups, the report said. Younger people - particularly women - and people in developing countries, all of whom were less likely to access treatment, were especially at risk, the Commission said.

HIV funding has remained flat in recent years, at about $19.27 billion - roughly $7.08 billion short of the estimated amount needed to achieve the UNAIDS targets.

Dr. Linda-Gail Bekker, president of the International Aids Society and professor at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, said that 'despite the remarkable progress of the HIV response, the situation has stagnated in the past decade.

'Reinvigorating this work will be demanding - but the future health and well-being of millions of people require that we meet this challenge.'

The Lancet Commission also called for more collaboration between health professionals and for HIV treatment to become better incorporated into other areas of health care.

This would mean an end to HIV 'exceptionalism,' where specific funding and services are provided for HIV alone, and could include combining HIV screening with screening for other noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

In India, for example, if HIV testing and treatments were combined with those for syphilis among women sex workers and gay men, it could reduce the number of new HIV cases at a national level by 7% between 2018 and 2028, the report estimated.

'Health systems must be designed to meet the needs of the people they serve, including having the capacity to address multiple health problems simultaneously,' said Prof. Chris Beyrer. 'No one can be left behind in our efforts to achieve sustainable health.'

About 37 million people worldwide live with HIV.

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