Global Fund extends anti-retroviral treatment to 4.2 million people

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The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has announced new results showing a substantial increase in the number of people being treated for HIV and in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus.

The results show an increase of 900,000 in the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy since the end of 2011, taking the total now getting treatment under programs supported by the Global Fund to 4.2 million.

The increase has been driven to a great extent by a steady scale-up of access to life-saving antiretroviral medication in sub-Saharan countries such as Nigeria. It reflects rising investment in treatment by countries with support from the Global Fund, which is narrowing the gap in coverage.

In 2011, Zambia reached universal access, defined as more than 80 percent antiretroviral coverage. Between 2009 and 2011, Zimbabwe increased the coverage of people receiving treatment by more than 50 v. Cambodia, Namibia, Rwanda and Swaziland also reached universal coverage in 2011. Nigeria currently has less than 30% coverage.

A steady fall in the cost of drugs has been another factor contributing to the rapid scale-up of treatment. A year’s supply of first-line antiretroviral drugs costs today less than $100 for the least expensive regimen recommended by the WHO, down from more than $10,000 in 2000.

The number of pregnant women receiving antiretroviral medicines to prevent the transmission of HIV to their unborn children grew from 1.3 million to 1.7 million from the end of 2011. The number of HIV counselling and testing sessions also increased from 190 million to 250 million in the same period.

The total number of condoms distributed jumped from 3.5 billion to 4.2 billion between the end of 2011 and 2012. Interventions related to behaviour change communications almost doubled, from 160 million to 300 million.

Care and support services provided to patients increased from 13 million to 19 million, and services delivered to Most-at-Risk Populations, including female sex workers, injecting drug users and men who have sex with men, rose from 23 million to 30 million.

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