treatment brings countries of the Americas closer to “zero”
Washington, D.C., 30 November 2012 (PAHO/WHO) — Increased
access to antiretroviral treatment has changed the face of the HIV epidemic in
Latin America and the Caribbean, helping tens of thousands of people to live
longer and healthier lives while also helping prevent HIV transmission between
sexual partners and from mothers to infants.
on this success—say experts at the Pan American
Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO)—can help countries in Latin America and the Caribbean
achieve the goals of the global World AIDS Day 2012 campaign: “Getting
to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero
the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the countries of the Americas have come a
long way. Our countries’ efforts show encouraging results, which in turn
motivates us to continue our work,” said PAHO/WHO Assistant Director Dr.
Socorro Gross. “Our region continues to show strong leadership in prevention,
treatment, and providing care to those in need.”
America and the Caribbean have the highest level of antiretroviral treatment
coverage of any mid-low income region in the world, with an estimated 68% of
people who need treatment receiving it in Latin America, and 67% in the
Caribbean. According to WHO and UNAIDS data, at least four countries in the
region—Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and Mexico—have achieved universal
access to treatment, and 10 others are close to achieving that goal.
The region has also made great progress in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The number of children born with HIV has declined 32% in the Caribbean since 2001, and 24% in Latin America.
Studies show that the same medicines that save lives and keep people with HIV healthy can also prevent HIV transmission between sexual partners and from mothers to infants. In a new set of guidelines for treating people with HIV who have uninfected partners, WHO recommends offering antiretroviral therapy to the HIV-positive partner as early as possible and regardless of the status of his or her immune system, to reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission to the uninfected partner.
new developments reinforce the importance of an integrated approach toward HIV
prevention, treatment and care, and alignment with programs and services for
maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, adolescent health,
and others,” said Dr. Gina Tambini, PAHO Area Manager for Family and Community
is a very opportune time for the HIV response,” said Dr. Massimo Ghidinelli,
Coordinator of PAHO’s HIV/STI Prevention, Treatment and Care Project. “With
evidence-based interventions and sound public health principles, we now see the
potential to make the HIV response more sustainable and accelerate our progress
toward achievement of the target of zero new infections and zero AIDS-related
is marking World AIDS Day with the launch on Nov. 30 of a new exhibit, United
Colors of HIV, by the Argentine artist Fabián Rios Rubino. The exhibit was
inspired by a 1991 United Colors of Benetton ad campaign showing a man with
AIDS on his deathbed, surrounded by his family. The goal of the exhibit is to
show how the HIV/AIDS paradigm has changed since then.
people are still dying of AIDS, those who have access to medical treatment can
live longer, better lives,” says Rios Rubino in his artist’s statement for the
Expanding treatment has helped lower AIDS mortality rates globally and in the Americas region. Between 2005 and 2011, the number of AIDS deaths declined 20% in the region.
population groups, however, still have difficulty accessing HIV prevention and
treatment services. Barriers include geographical factors as well as stigma,
discrimination and legal issues. Men who have sex with men, people who use
drugs, sex workers, and adolescent girls remain vulnerable and often
marginalized. As a result, they may not obtain the health services they need,
including early access to antiretroviral therapy. Migrants also frequently have
limited access to the services they need.
2011, an estimated 2.5 million adults worldwide were newly infected with HIV,
and 1.7 million people died from HIV-related causes. That is about 700,000
fewer new infections than 10 years ago and 600,000 fewer deaths than in 2005.
Currently an estimated 8 million people in low- and middle-income countries are
accessing the treatment they need, up from only 0.4 million in 2003.
global community has agreed to maintain the World AIDS Day 2012 theme “Getting
to Zero” for the next three years, through 2015, the global target date for
achieving universal access to HIV treatment.
PAHO, which celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, is the oldest international public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.