PAHO Committed to Increase Number of Persons Treated For HIV/AIDS
Washington, DC, December 3, 2003 (PAHO)—The Pan American World Organization (PAHO) is committed to cooperate with the hemispheric nations to almost double the number of people who are treated for the HIV/AIDS virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The goal is to extend treatment to 400,000 persons. Currently, as many as 196,000 persons have access to anti-retroviral drugs that have lengthened and improved the lives of persons affected with the HIV/AIDS virus. The idea is to increase that number by another 174,000 by 2005.
That goal is part of the World Health Organization's (WHO) campaign to known as "3 by 5," which seeks to treat 3 million people infected worldwide by with HIV/AIDS by the year 2005.
In an address to the opening session of the Eighth World Congress on AIDS and Communicable Sexual Diseases, in Punta del Este, Uruguay, PAHO director Dr. Mirta Roses Periago outlined the strategic plan for the Americas to stop the growth of this epidemic. The plan includes, among others:
This goal can be reached since one of the biggest improvements in the region over the past two years has been to lower the price of drugs by as much as 90 percent. Because of regional agreements and the joint efforts of the hemispheric nations, the average treatment of HIV/AIDS cases now costs about $1,000 per year.
Roses said, "the number of new HIV infections - and the sick rates and death rates associated with them - will be significantly reduced as a result of effective prevention, care and integral treatment by the health care system, the community and the family."
The latest statistics made public as part of World AIDS celebrated Monday, currently more than 2.8 million persons are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus, including 235,000 who contracted it last year. Of that total, 1.4 million live in Latin America, 420,000 in the Caribbean and 940,000 in North America.
The largest relative increase in the cases of HIV/AIDS infections took place in the Caribbean (16 percent), followed by Latin America (10 percent) and North America (5 percent). The Caribbean is the region with the second-highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world, with the highest rate being in Sub-Saharan Africa. The largest rates were registered in the Bahamas and Haiti.
In the Caribbean, most of the transmission of the virus comes through heterosexual contacts. However, in the Andean region - as well as in Canada, Mexico and the United States - sex between men accounts for 50 percent of transmissions.
PAHO's efforts also include combating the stigma and discrimination still suffered by HIV/AIDS patients. Including in the health sector. A report on those efforts -- Understanding and Responding to HIV/AIDS-related Stigma and Stigma and Discrimination in the Health Sector - was released Monday as part of World AIDS Day.
PAHO was established in 1902 and is the world's oldest public health organization. PAHO works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and the quality of life of its people. It serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).
PAHO Member States today include all 35 countries in the Americas. France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are Participating States. Portugal and Spain are Observer States, and Puerto Rico is an Associate Member.
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