2016 International AIDS conference will be remembered as the beginning of the PrEP era
During the International Aids Societ, one of the worlds greatest scientific meetings about HIV and Aids, experts urge for urgent actions against the diseases new advances08/09/2016
During the 5 days the 21st International Aids Conference took place in Durban (South Africa), about 15 thousand people died worldwide. This statement was said during the closing ceremony by the new IAS president (International Aids Society), South-African Linda Gall-Becker. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) show over 37 million people are infected by the HIV in the world. Although the number of cases has dropped 35% during the last decade, the amount of infected people has increased in some countries.
Today, about 17 million people have access to antiretroviral therapy. 16 years ago, this number was under a million. By the year 2000, treatment costs were 10 thousand dollars per year, per person. Nowadays it costs 100 dollars per month per person. Data from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (Unaids) show that 15 million people had access to treatment in 2015.
Despite the conferences participants acknowledging progress, they say there is a long way to meet the goals established by the United Nations (UN) to end the outbreak until 2030. Besides this, over 60% of the people living with HIV still dont have access to antiretrovirals. In the experts opinion, stereotype and lack of investments are some of the barriers to be overcome. Many wont seek attention afraid of discrimination. An interview by the UN with 52 thousand youngsters in 16 countries, revealed that 68% are not willing to be HIV-tested. They alleged fear of a positive result and concern with social stigmas.
The key population is still composed by men who have sex with men, injectable drug users and prisoners. However, according to data from the United Nations International Childrens Emergency Fund (Unicef), the amount of infected teenagers increased: about 29 youngsters between 15 and 19 years-old are infected every hour. The disease is the second cause of death in this group. According to the UN, females are 65% of the new infections in the world. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, from every four teenagers infected by the virus, three are females.
HIV infections in Brazil increased as well: from 700 thousand cases in 2010 to 830 thousand in 2015. This means 40 thousand new cases and 15 thousand deaths every year. The Access to Treatment coordinator at the Brazilian Interdisciplinary Aids Association (Abia), Veriano Terto Junior, who joined the event in Durban, severily critisized the Countrys strategy. According to him, Brazilian actions are basically directed for treatment. For Veriano, more investment in education and prevention are necessary.
During the conference, the report Myth versus reality: Evaluation of the Brazilian response to HIV in 2016 was released by Abia. The document says Brazil once was a worldwide reference in combatting the disease, but today is walking backwards. There is, however, at least one good news for Brazilians. A drug able to decrease chances of infection by the HIV should be listed in the Unified Health System (SUS) free medication list until the end of the year. The medication, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), decreases up to 92% the chances of the virus entering cells and will be used by risk groups alongside with condoms, according to researches. The information was given by the STD, Aids and Viral Hepatitis Departments director at the Health Ministry, Adele Benzaken, during the conference. We must unite so 2016 is remembered as the beginning of the PrEP era, said Chris Beyrer, former IAS president, referring to the HIV preventing drug, which should be approved in Brazil until the end of 2016.
Also during the event, researches showed that an expansion in treatment access, worldwide, between 2002 and 2012, prevented 4.2 million deaths and contributed to reduce by 58% new HIV infections. However, Unaids and the Kaiser Family Foundation presented a study showing a reduction in government funding from 8.6 billion dollars in 2014 to 7.5 billion dollares last year.
According to the Global Fund, 28 million people could be infected in the next six years if aditional resources are not available. The group also informed 13 billion dollars are needed for their next funding cycle, which reaches from 2017 to 2019. Currently, the Global Fund mobilizes and invests nearly 4 billion dollars supporting HIV programs in over 100 countries.
The conference gathered 15 thousand participants, among scientists, activists and donors. The event ended with an appeal for urgent prevention actions…