At least 10 million HIV-AIDS deaths could be averted by 2025, but doing so requires a dramatic expansion and simplification of treatment, the man leading the international fight against the epidemic says.
“We must reshape the AIDS response,” said Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, the United Nations Program on HIV-AIDS.
That new approach, dubbed Treatment 2.0, calls for 15 million people worldwide to be treated with antiretroviral drugs that can slow the progression of HIV-AIDS symptoms – up from the five million currently undergoing treatment.
Mr. Sidibé said that ramping up treatment efforts requires several innovations, including;
» A better pill: Current treatments can be quite toxic and patients develop resistance. UNAIDS hopes to develop a “resistance-proof” medication, ideally a one-pill-a-day format;
» Better diagnostics: More than two-thirds of current treatment costs go to testing and monitoring of patients; cheaper, easy-to-use tests for viral load and CD4 count are being developed;
» Viewing treatment as a key prevention tool: Patients being treated with antiretrovirals are far less likely to transmit the virus; UNAIDS estimates that one million new infections a year would be averted if everyone was treated early.