Global HIV response failing young people according to UN report

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MDG2014While new HIV infections have declined by 44 percent among adults, people aged 15 to 24 have seen no decline in infection rates, despite efforts targeting young people, according to the latest United Nations Development Program’s Millennium Development Goals report. That is one reason, the report indicates, that the world is not on track to meet the goal of halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV by 2015.

Insufficient knowledge and risky behavior are responsible for continuing infections among young people, the report says. It notes that in sub-Saharan Africa, only 39 percent of young men and 28 percent of young women have comprehensive knowledge of HIV, and only 57 percent of young men and 37 percent of young women who engage in high-risk sex use condoms. The report notes these rates are far below the 95 percent target agreed by the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV and AIDS in 2001.

Young people, including children, are also falling between the cracks when it comes to treatment, the report says. While Millenium Development Goal 6 also calls for universal access to treatment for those who need it by 2010, and although access to life-saving antiretroviral therapy has increased dramatically over the past decade thanks to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund, only one third of people living with HIV are receiving treatment, the report says; 56 percent of people who require treatment are not receiving it.

“Assuming the current momentum can be maintained, the world would be on track to reaching its objective of having 15 million people on ART by the end of 2015,” the report says, noting that domestic and international funding and political commitment need to be heightened to reach this goal.

The world is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on halting the spread and reversing the incidence of tuberculosis, the report says, as the number of new cases and deaths from TB are falling. The rate of incidence decline has been slow, the report notes, but the number of new cases continues to fall, with a decline of two percent in 2012 compared to 2011.

The report notes that 87 percent of patients diagnosed with TB in 2011 were treated successfully, exceeding the target of 85 percent for the fourth consecutive year. Between 1995 and 2012, 22 million lives have been saved thanks to successful treatment.

The report says that despite good progress, much more needs to be done. With one third of newly diagnosed tuberculosis patients not receiving proper treatment and only one third of an estimated 300,000 multidrug-resistant patients getting treatment, bridging the large funding gap remains a challenge.

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