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ARLINGTON, Va. -- Despite an unprecedented three-fold increase in the delivery of antiretroviral therapy globally since 2003, the rate of new HIV infections dramatically outpaces current efforts to reach people with life-sustaining treatment.
For every new person who received antiretroviral therapy in 2005, another seven people became infected, said Dr. Peter Lamptey, president of Family Health Internationals Institute for HIV/AIDS. This gap was made evident just last week in a report by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), underscores the importance of prevention, particularly in the hardest hit parts of the world.
Some countries have made great strides in expanding access to treatment but have made little progress in bringing HIV prevention programs to scale, the UNAIDS report states. In the last two years, an estimated 50,000 additional people began antiretroviral therapy each month while nearly 350,000 people became infected. An estimated 28 million new HIV infections could be averted in low- and middle-income countries over the next decade if available prevention strategies are scaled up, according to the report.
FHI and other global leaders will continue scaling up these prevention activities, including educating people about how HIV is transmitted, preventing mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy and childbirth, encouraging HIV testing and counseling, and promoting behavioral and social changes to reduce risk.
Approximately 39 million people are living with AIDS worldwide. Two-thirds of them reside in sub-Saharan Africa, though some of the steepest increases in HIV infections are occurring in Eastern Europe and Asia. Each day, 8,500 people around the world die of AIDS, and more than 15 million children under the age of 18 years have lost one or more parents to the disease.
As one of the first U.S. nonprofit organizations to initiate AIDS programs in Africa, FHI continues to work at the forefront of HIV and AIDS work in developing countries, creating a seamless continuum of HIV prevention and care programs in some of the poorest communities in the world. FHIs achievements, reached through collaboration with sponsors and other partners worldwide, include:
Â·Â Managing the U.S. Agency for International Developments three largest global HIV projects.
Â·Â Managing the National Institutes of Healths HIV Prevention Trials Network, a worldwide clinical trials network that develops and tests primarily non-vaccine interventions to prevent HIV transmission.
Â· Working on five of six advanced clinical microbicide trials to prevent women from contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Â· Collaborating on Staying Alive, MTVs global campaign promoting HIV engagement and confronting HIV stigma.
Â· Arranging for people in one of the poorest regions of Rwanda to become the first in the world to receive free antiretroviral therapy with USAID funds.
Â· Managing the study that established single-dose nevirapine as the preferred treatment for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
FHIs HIV activities are supported by many national and international donors, especially the U.S. Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the U.S. Agency for International Development. For more information on the fight against HIV and AIDS, see www.fhi.org
Source: Family Health International