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Findings on access to anti-HIV drugs discussed at international conference

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, 22 July 2009 — An estimated 4 million people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) at the end of 2008, compared to 3 million in 2007 and 400,000 in 2003, according to preliminary data compiled by WHO, UNAIDS and UNICEF. Approximately 285,000 children benefited from paediatric ART programmes in 2008, a 45% increase over the prior year. In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 3 million people were accessing treatment in 2008, a 38% increase over 2007.

These and other figures—presented today at the International AIDS Society conference in Cape Town—are based on an analysis of data collected from 127 low- and middle-income countries. In collaboration with countries, WHO, UNAIDS and UNICEF are still completing the analysis. Final figures on ART access will be published in the September 2009 "Towards Universal Access" progress report, together with an in-depth analysis of a broad range of health sector HIV/AIDS interventions.

Substantial progress has been made in increasing access to treatment in low-and middle-income countries. Some countries have already achieved their universal access goals for treatment. However, in other countries, the rate of scale up is not sufficient to achieve their national targets for 2010. Some of the factors hindering progress include weak and fragmented health systems that are not sufficiently decentralized, poor integration of health services, poor access to HIV testing and counselling services and pervasive stigma and discrimination. These constraints are further affected by the recent economic crisis. WHO, UNICEF and UNAIDS, together with partners and implementers, are working on responses for countries to overcome the obstacles.

"Towards Universal Access" is an annual report that monitors the health sector response to HIV/AIDS. To access the 2008 report, please visit the following link: http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/2008progressreport/en/index.html


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:
Maritza Ascencios, UNICEF Media NY,
Tel + 1 212 824 6750,
E-mail: mascencios@unicef.org




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