26 July 2010

Treatment for HIV Increased 30% in 2009, UN Says


The number of people receiving treatment for HIV rose 30 percent in 2009, the biggest leap in a single year, according to the World Health Organization.

About 5.2 million people were receiving treatment for the AIDS-causing virus in 2009, up from 4 million in 2008, the United Nations health agency, also known as WHO, said today in an e-mailed statement.

WHO is pushing for earlier treatment of HIV at this week’s International AIDS Conference in Vienna, stating that early use of medicines also acts as a preventative measure by reducing levels of the virus in the body, so carriers are less likely to pass on the disease. HIV-related deaths could be reduced by 20 percent in the next five years if guidelines for early treatment are implemented, according to WHO.

“Starting treatment earlier gives us an opportunity to enable people living with HIV to stay healthier and live longer,” said Gottfried Hirnschall, WHO director of HIV and AIDS, in the statement.

Results last week from a study of 816 HIV patients by the New England Journal of Medicine showed that early treatment of HIV cut the risk of death by 75 percent.

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