News Outlets Continue To Examine Findings Of U.N. HIV/AIDS Progress Report

News outlets continue to mine through the findings of the U.N.’s 2009 progress report on HIV and AIDS.

The Washington Post: The report finds “about 42 percent of people in the developing world who are infected with the AIDS virus and should be taking antiretroviral drugs are now receiving them … At the end of 2008, 2.9 million Africans were on the lifesaving therapy, up by more than one-third from the previous year” (Brown, 10/1).

“[O]verall the Latin American and Caribbean regions reported the best performance, with 54% of the qualifying population receiving antiretrovirals, up from 51% in 2007,” British Medical Journal News reports, adding, “In East, South, and South East Asia access inched upwards to 37% in 2008, up from 29% in 2007” (Zarocostas, 9/30).

The New York Times: “But the United Nations’ progress report on AIDS also contained sobering news. While more than a million people were put on drugs in the past year — drugs they will need for the rest of their lives — 2.7 million people were newly infected with H.I.V. in 2007, the latest year for which there were estimates” (Dugger, 9/30).

The figures from the report also show “new infections still outpace the numbers of people on the life-saving drugs,” Agence France-Presse reports, highlighting the need for additional efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and political will to implement such programs, Mark Stirling, of UNAIDS, said during a press conference about the report. “There really needs to be a social transformation,” Stirling said. “At the moment, there is no social movement, so there is a need for a stronger political leadership and for a stronger traditional leadership” (9/30).

Also reflecting on the report, NPR’s All Things Considered writes, “5 million more people need treatment now, at a time when the global recession threatens to reduce funding for such programs” (Wilson, 9/30).

“All indications point to the number of people needing treatment rising dramatically over the next few years … Ensuring equitable access will be one of our primary concerns,” said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, the Guardian reports. “One of the biggest challenges may prove to be the need for newer antiretroviral drugs as the first-line combinations now available in poor countries gradually cease to be effective … a far more expensive than the basic drugs now used in developing countries,” the newspaper writes (Boseley, 9/30).

“The UNAIDS report showed just 2 percent were so far receiving alternative ‘second’ line drug regimes – a figure expected to increase sharply for those surviving several years on treatment,” the Financial Times writes in an article that examines efforts currently underway to bring down the price of second and third line antiretroviral therapies. “Sidibe said he had launched talks on the creation of a regional African drug regulator designed to speed the authorisation of locally produced and imported antiretroviral therapies for HIV,” the newspaper writes. “We have an anarchic situation and must level the playing field and cut the red-tape for domestic production and make drugs more accessible and affordable,” Sidibe said (Jack, 10/1).

The report also found “[m]ore than half of HIV-positive pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries continue to go without life-saving anti-retroviral medication that could prevent transmission of the virus to their unborn children, PlusNews/IRIN writes in an article that examines the devastating impacts of the disease on women and children in developing countries (10/1).

The Times of India reports on how India is faring in its efforts to decrease mother-to-child transmission of HIV from the U.N. progress report: “While 80,000 pregnant women living with HIV require ART so that they don’t pass on the deadly virus to their new born child, only 10,673 received the treatment till the end of 2008. Only 16% of pregnant women in India were tested for HIV. Just about 22% children born to Indian women living with HIV were receiving ART for preventing mother-to-child transmission” (Sinha, 10/1).

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