USAIDS launches treatment 2015 initiative

The second day of the Abuja +12 AU Special AIDS, TB, Malaria Summit saw the launch of USAIDS treatment 2015 initiative.
The Executive Director UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, said at the launch on Saturday in Abuja that in order to end AIDS scourge in Africa, there was the need for a paradigm shift through integrated efforts.
The aim of the initiative is to help middle and low income countries to increase the number of people accessing antiretroviral medicines as a means of preserving their lives and reducing further infections.
Sidibé said the 2015 plan could be achieved.
He said: “What we should not accept is when people say we can’t reach anyone, like they said in the past.
“Treatment is not just about giving out pills.
“It’s about reducing infection and changing the dynamics through innovation.”
He said countries would have to look into creating new ways of doing things in order to reach people who were previously overlooked.
Sidibe added that it was through innovation that things that were previously said to be impossible were achieved.
He said: “Back then, it was $5,000 per person, per year.
“Now, it is down to $80 per year, per person.
“It used to be 18 pills per day and they were toxic.
“Now it’s one pill per day.
“Soon, I expect it to be one pill per quarter.”
Addressing the issue of stigma, Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said that social awareness was lacking in the country, noting that it could facilitate zero infection goal.
Chuckwu said the country would henceforth make use of musicians, entertainers in the Nigerian movie industry and other role models in the country’s growing fashion industry to educate people on HIV and AIDS.
“Our national prevalence rate has reduced to 4.1 but the problem is at the state level where the rates in some states are higher than the national level,” he said.
This, he said, called for a more strategic approach, which is where the treatment 2015 initiative came in.
Also speaking at the launch, Eric Goosby, US Global AIDS coordinator, noted that the social perception of AIDS was also a major factor in treatment.
“Stigma is an immobiliser, while treatment more than education initiatives has been shown to be more effective in curbing new infections,” Goosby said.
He explained that in any community where 50 per cent of the people in need of treatment had proper access to drugs, there was a decline in the percentage of new infections.
He added that as the percentage of individuals accessing drugs increased beyond 50 per cent, the number of transmissions likewise reduced.
Goosby said that treatment was central to checking the transmission of HIV, adding it did not mean that other initiatives should be abandoned.
He said: “The formula for effective HIV treatment is known.
“Now it’s up to us to see it through.
“I don’t think we can do this.
“I know we can.”