There has been new momentum at the highest political levels to put plans into place that will make the most use of the recent science showing ART itself both saves lives and stops HIV from spreading. International funding, however, remains largely stagnant across the board and will need to be increased to achieve the goals of saving more lives through treatment, while dramatically reducing HIV transmission.
While gains made in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the past decade are encouraging, countries most affected by the pandemic continue to struggle to place enough people on treatment and implement the best science and strategies to fight the disease.
While several countries hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic are improving HIV treatment protocols to reduce deaths and illness, a lack of support from donors prevents many from implementing vital changes.
But just as important gains are beginning to show their promise for patients, a stagnation in donor funding, coupled with trade policies that will create serious additional barriers to accessing affordable generic medicines, are dealing HIV/AIDS treatment a double blow.
In late 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued new international recommendations concerning the fight against HIV/AIDS. WHO advocates treating more patients by starting antiretroviral therapy at an earlier stage and using higher quality drugs. These measures will result in an increase in the number of infected people eligible for treatment. While beneficial, the new recommendations pose many challenges and come amid an unfavorable global environment.
The number of patients on treatment has risen dramatically over the last few years. At the end of August 2010, more than 200,000 patients were on ARV treatment in Mozambique, of whom more than 33,000 were being treated with the assistance of MSF.