WHO promotes expansion of antiretroviral therapy treatments to HIV patients

The World Health Organization (WHO) marked World AIDS Day on Tuesday by encouraging the expansion of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to all patients who have HIV.

Health experts believe that eliminating the AIDS epidemic is only possible when HIV treatments are made more available. If this is accomplished, the WHO believes that the AIDS epidemic can be eliminated within this generation.

“The Millennium Development Goal of reversing the HIV epidemic was reached ahead of the 2015 deadline - an incredible achievement that testifies to the power of national action and international solidarity," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said.

Improving the reach and efficacy of antiretroviral therapy has been credited with a significant decline in deaths related to AIDS. There has also been a notable decrease in new HIV infections.

“WHO applauds governments, civil society, and organizations that have made availability of life-saving antiretroviral therapy possible in the most trying circumstances,” Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, WHO's assistant director general, said. “The new recommendation to expand ART to all people living with HIV is a call to further step up the pace.”

There has been a 35 percent decrease in new HIV infections compared to the turn of the century.

“The sense of urgency that was the norm during the disease’s most-destructive years must not be allowed to abate,” Mpanju-Shumbusho said. “HIV remains a major health challenge -- drawing sharp attention to health system weaknesses and gaps in universal health coverage. Addressing these issues will be critical to meeting the new global targets for AIDS.”

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