UNAIDS recommends rapid scale up of access to antiretroviral medicines

The Joint United Nations Programme in HIV/AIDS launched a new framework on Saturday that is meant to accelerate action in giving 15 million people access to retroviral treatment by 2015.

Treatment 2015 gives partners and countries practical and innovative methods for increasing the number of people with access to antiretroviral medicines. The medicines will allow people with HIV to live longer and healthier lives while preventing new HIV infections.

One objective of the framework is to meet the goal of reaching 15 million people with ART by 2015, a goal set by U.N. member states in 2011.

"Reaching the 2015 target will be a critical milestone," Michel Sidibé, the executive director of UNAIDS, said. "Countries and partners need to urgently and strategically invest resources and efforts to ensure that everyone has access to HIV prevention and treatment services."

Treatment 2015 takes into account the World Health Organization's "Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection," which recommend that people living with HIV begin ART much earlier.

"The scale up of ART is an unprecedented global success story for public health," Margaret Chan, the director-general of the WHO, said. "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. Substantial further scale-up of access to these medicines provides us with a unique opportunity to push this epidemic into irreversible decline."

Treatment 2015 highlights three essential pillars for reaching the 2015 target. Increasing demand for HIV treatment and testing services, mobilizing resources and improving effectiveness and efficiency related to spending and making sure more people have access to ART.

"Scaling up access to antiretroviral treatment is critical to achieving an AIDS-free generation," Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, said. "(The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) is firmly committed to continue working with partner countries and other stakeholders to help make this vision a reality, but we all must share in the responsibility to get there."