Reaching the Tipping Point Against AIDS

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Posted on 12/6/2013

Although AIDS did not become an epidemic until the early 1980s, the disease has claimed many lives since it was first detected in the late 1950s. In the intervening years, millions of people have died from AIDS and related illnesses, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, and although much progress has been made in developing cost-effective antiretroviral drugs for AIDS treatment, it remains one of the world's largest public health issues.

However, according to a recent report, the world could be approaching a tipping point in the fight against AIDS. As more HIV-positive people receive access to antiretroviral drugs, 2015 will mark the first year since the disease reached epidemic status that the number of people receiving treatment will exceed the number of new infections.

Turning the Tide

In its annual accountability report on the status of AIDS prevention and treatment programs, nonprofit organization ONE discovered that, due to widespread and concerted efforts to expand access to antiretroviral drugs, AIDS education and other preventive measures, 2015 will be a historic year in the fight against AIDS.

One of the key findings of this year's report is that the most measurable gains in combating AIDS have been made in sub-Saharan Africa. For the second consecutive year, lower and middle-income countries have led the way in global fund to fight AIDS, and 16 African nations have already met the tipping point against AIDS ahead of global targets. Ghana, Malawi and Zambia have achieved the most substantial progress and are effectively combining domestic health care spending with external donor resources to turn the tide against AIDS.

Serious Challenges

Although it would appear that the "beginning of the end of AIDS" mentioned by President Barack Obama on World AIDS Day in 2011 is in sight, a number of significant obstacles remain in achieving this ambitious goal.

Certain subsets of the targets identified in the report remain out of reach, most notably reducing incidence of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Several African nations have made great strides in this area, including Botswana, Ethiopia and Namibia, but Angola and Nigeria face an uphill struggle in making gains and are actually keeping the world from achieving AIDS reduction goals, according to the report.

Similarly, international AIDS funding is viewed as too low to meet global targets. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, worldwide financing remains between $3 billion and $5 billion short of the $22 billion to $24 billion needed to achieve core outcomes on treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS. Although this shortfall may seem comparatively small to the overall funding goal, domestic health spending increases are seen as insufficient to address this funding shortage, indicating that more international aid is needed.

Helping Children

ChildFund works in many countries experiencing the AIDS epidemic, including Kenya. Despite the worldwide gains outlined in the ONE report, millions of children's lives are impacted by AIDS every year. In fact, according to UNICEF, 1.1 million Kenyan children were orphaned due to AIDS in 2011 alone.

In Kenya and other countries, ChildFund is committed to helping orphans and children affected by AIDS. Thanks to a matching grant of $3.5 million provided by the United States Agency for International Development, we were able to help improve the lives of children like Sebastian, who made an amazing recovery from the brink of death after receiving access to antiretroviral medications.

Today, as a teenager, Sebastian has hope for the future, but many more children need our help. If you would like to help us offer children in need affected by AIDS the chance of a healthier, happier life, please sponsor a child or become a monthly giving partner today.