Why treatment must be scaled up
The long-term economic and social costs of HIV/AIDS have been seriously underestimated in many countries. More accurate projections now suggest that some countries in sub-Saharan Africa will face economic collapse unless they can bring their epidemics under control, mainly because HIV/AIDS weakens and kills adults like Joseph Jeune in their prime. Data in this report and the forthcoming UNAIDS/WHO Global report confirm that the social devastation of the epidemic continues to grow. Reinforced prevention is vital to safeguard future generations but, at the same time, antiretroviral treatment expansion is essential to protect the stability and security of communities, countries and regions and to strengthen the foundations of future development.
The fact that effective treatment exists but has not been made accessible to millions of people in urgent need is something that WHO must tackle, given its special responsibility within the UNAIDS family of cosponsors. WHO’s Constitution charges the Organization to pursue the universal realization of the right to health: “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health”. In the case of HIV/AIDS, for those in clinical need of treatment the realization of this right requires access to antiretrovirals.