New targets for expanding treatment of HIV/AIDS
WASHINGTON, United States — The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) says Latin America and the Caribbean have established new targets for expanding diagnosis and antiretroviral treatment (ART) and reducing patients' viral loads by the year 2020.
The accord, with partner agencies, is viewed as a move by the region to jointly address the HIV epidemic and improve the lives of people living with the virus.
PAHO said the new targets "dubbed "90-90-90," were adopted during the first Latin American and Caribbean Forum on the HIV Continuum of Care held recently.
The forum was organised by a coalition of partners, including Mexico's Secretariat of Health and UNAIDS.
"Expanding early diagnosis and treatment combines the clinical benefits of early treatment for patients with benefits to the population of preventing transmission," said César Nuñez, Regional Director of UNAIDS for Latin America.
The head of PAHO's Hepatitis, Tuberculosis and Sexually Transmitted Infections Unit, Massino Ghidinelli, said the new targets are a step forward in controlling the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
"If we want more people to be on treatment and to achieve undetectable viral loads, they have to know their diagnosis and begin treatment early," he said.
UNAIDS estimates that, in 2012, some 1.8 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean were living with HIV, and some 98,000 people became newly infected.
New PAHO estimates for 2013 suggest that 70 per cent of people living with HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean know they are infected, adding this is an average based on data from countries that account for 62 per cent of the region's HIV epidemic.
However, it said in some countries fewer than half know their HIV diagnosis.
Expanding testing by increasing the availability of tests and involving communities and civil society in the effort will lead to more people with HIV seeking the treatment they need," PAHO said.
It said about 725,000 people with HIV were receiving antiretroviral treatment in Latin America and the Caribbean as of December 2012, stating that preliminary estimates suggest this number increased to more than 800,000 by December 2013.