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Number of HIV/AIDS cases in sub-Saharan Africa expected to greatly outpace resources
Date:11/29/2010

WASHINGTON The number of people infected with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to far outstrip available resources for treatment by the end of the decade, forcing African nations to make difficult choices about how to allocate inadequate supplies of lifesaving antiretroviral therapy (ART), says a new report by the Institute of Medicine. It calls for a renewed emphasis on reducing the rate of new infections, promoting more efficient models of care, and encouraging shared responsibility between African nations and the U.S. for treatment and prevention efforts, which could greatly improve prospects for 2020 and beyond.

In 2008, more than 33 million people globally had HIV/AIDS, 67 percent of whom were in Africa. In addition, more than 90 percent of the 2.7 million new infections reported that year occurred in Africa, and only half of Africans who should have received ART according to World Health Organization guidelines then in place were treated. By 2020, the number of infected people in Africa will grow to over 30 million, with just 7 million of the approximately 12 million who should be treated under current guidelines likely able to receive ART, estimated the committee that wrote the report.

The report notes that because treatment can only reach a fraction of those who need it and its costs are "not sustainable for the foreseeable future," preventing new infections should be a central tenet of a long-term response to HIV/AIDS in Africa. In the meantime, decision makers in Africa will need to expand local capacities for choosing how to allocate scarce resources ethically. Because patients requiring treatment now generally were infected years ago, policymakers can do little to reverse the short-term course of the epidemic.

"Already in Uganda and a few other nations, we don't have enough health care workers or ART to meet demands, and health centers are increasingly turning away patients who need these drugs to
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Contact: Molly Galvin
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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