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HEALTH REPORT - More People Get HIV Drugs, but Even More Get Infected

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This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

A United Nations report says almost three million people in developing countries are now receiving drugs for H.I.V. This is an increase of almost one million people from two thousand six. Still, the hope was to reach three million by two thousand five.

The World Health Organization, UNAIDS and UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, released the new report Tuesday.

Margaret Chan
Margaret Chan

W.H.O. Director-General Margaret Chan welcomed the progress. But she noted that antiretroviral therapy, or ART, alone will not solve the problem.

MARGARET CHAN: "For every two persons we manage to provide them with ART, another five persons get infected. So again, we cannot underestimate the power of prevention."

The new report says almost seventy-five percent of people receiving H.I.V. drugs are in Africa. Sixty percent of the people with H.I.V. in Africa are women.

Antiretroviral therapy suppresses H.I.V., human immunodeficiency virus. The drugs help patients live longer without developing AIDS. The disease robs the body of its natural defenses against infections.

An estimated nine million seven hundred thousand people in low- and middle-income countries were in need of H.I.V. treatment last year. The report says that by the end of the year, just over thirty percent of them were getting it.

The report says price reductions are a main reason why more people with H.I.V., including more pregnant women, are receiving the drugs.

Also, delivery systems have been redesigned to better serve individual countries and smaller health centers. And treatments are simpler than in the past.

But the report notes that huge barriers remain in dealing with the AIDS epidemic. Getting patients to stay on their therapy is difficult. There are still large numbers of people who do not get tested for H.I.V. And there are many others who get tested too late and die within months.

The report also says there is not enough joint treatment of H.I.V. and the related infections that most often kill AIDS patients. Tuberculosis, for example, is the leading cause of death among AIDS patients in Africa.

And still another problem is the shortage of health care workers in the developing world. Many move to wealthier nations for better pay and living conditions.

And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written by Caty Weaver. For more health news, go to www.unsv.com for transcripts and MP3s of our reports. I'm Steve Ember.

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