Posts Tagged ‘UNICEF’

The end of today’s UNAIDS progress report, detailing the latest figures on access to ARVs, is in some ways more important than the beginning. “The Way Forward,” the report’s conclusion, lays out important next steps in the campaign for universal access, at a time when the global economic crisis and questions about sustainability have cast a cloud over global AIDS initiatives.

To be sure, today’s report, put out by UNAIDS, WHO, and UNICEF, leads with some excellent news:

*1 million new HIV patients in need of life-saving treatment were added to the ARV rolls in the developing world last year, for a total of 4 million people now getting HIV therapy in low- and middle-income countries

*HIV testing and counseling became more widely available and more frequently used last year

*Almost half, 45 percent, of HIV-positive pregnant women received ARVs to prevent transmission of the virus to their babies in 2008, up from 35 percent in 2007

Now for the hard part. More than five million people who desperately need treatment still aren’t getting it, concludes the report, “Toward Universal Access, Scaling up priority HIV/AIDS interventions in the health sector.” And although 1 million new HIV-positive people were put on ARVs last year, there were an estimated 2.7 million new infections in 2007, not exactly a good ratio. And many patients are not being diagnosed until they have end-stage disease, when HIV therapy may be too late. Click here for the news release, which summarizes the report.

“Without significant acceleration in the rate at which services are expanded and people are reached, millions of new infections will occur, more lives will be lost and the human and economic burden on future generations will continue to increase,” the report’s authors write in the conclusion.

And all these new numbers must been seen through the prism of new evidence demonstrating that earlier initiation of ART has a significant positive effect on mortality and survival; indeed, the authors of today’s report make a passing reference to the WHO’s plans to review the new scientific evidence on that matter and “proceed with any necessary revisions to its treatment guidelines” later this year. (more…)

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Editor’s Note: Check back on Sunday, when we expect a few more guest bloggers to weigh in with their impressions and insights from the conference.

It has been busy — and full of challenging issues.

The HIV/AIDS Implementers’ Meeting this year in Windhoek (which ends early Sunday) has been quite different from any of the preceeding gatherings — as UNICEF’s Jimmy Kolker noted in an earlier post.

There was the definite sense that the global response against AIDS had moved into a new phase — a time when it was necessary to take thoughtful stock, to stop a minute, and look back at the last five years of nonstop running that put programs in place, and saved so many lives.


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Jimmy Kolker, chief of HIV/AIDS for UNICEF since 2007, has been a critical player in the fight against AIDS for years. Prior to UNICEF, he was deputy US global AIDS coordinator and served for 30 years as a US diplomat, including several postings in Africa.

Q: What’s been interesting so far in the meeting?

Jimmy Kolker, head of UNICEF's HIV/AIDS programs, speaks about some of the `hard truths' at the HIV/AIDS Implementers' Meeting

Jimmy Kolker, head of UNICEF's HIV/AIDS programs, speaks about some of the `hard truths' at the HIV/AIDS Implementers' Meeting

JK: I’ve attended these meetings for the past five years.  This year, the level of real activity has risen, and now we’ve been able to analyze what’s been done and learn some lessons and change course. People are telling some hard truths, based on implementing programs. PEPFAR itself has expanded its mandate – whereas it once focused on prevention, treatment, and care, now it’s moving into the status of women, nutrition, family planning, issues of social norms, health systems.

Q: What are some of the hard truths? (more…)

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