PHILADELPHIA — According to the Pan American Health Organization, Latin America has increased access to anti-retroviral treatment to approximately 600,000 and reduced infection figures by nine percent since 2003.
As a region, Latin America has a strong history of coming together to reach common goals, particularly in health and economic development thus making the region a successful framework to use for combating regional issues across the globe.
Latin America has remained proactive in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Pan American Health Organization released multiple reports in 2014 highlighting the achievements of the region in prevention, maintaining care through anti-retroviral treatment and preventing mother to child transmission of HIV. In late March 2015, the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean signed a memorandum of understanding with UNAIDS. In early 2014, the Organization of American States and the United Nations signed a similar agreement.
In May 2014, leading scientists, researchers, academics and civil society met at the First Latin American and Caribbean Forum on the Continuum of Care (prevention, diagnosis, treatment and maintaining proper treatment). At this forum, they decided to implement the 90-90-90 targets: 90 percent of people living with HIV diagnosed, 90 percent of those eligible for anti-retroviral treatment receive it and 90 percent of those on anti-retroviral treatment on viral suppression. These are agreed regional and national goals to be achieved by the year 2020.
The region has taken strides to dramatically increase anti-retroviral treatment for those who are eligible. Between the year 2012 and 2013 in Latin America there was a 29 percent increase in those receiving anti-retroviral treatment. As it stands, 71 percent of those living with HIV have been diagnosed of which 44 percent receive anti-retroviral treatment. Nevertheless, the number of new diagnoses annually has not decreased.
The Pan American Health Organization released the Strategy and Plan of Action for the Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and Congenital Syphilis in 2010. The goals were to reduce the figures of mother to child transmission from 18 percent in 2010 to five percent by 2015 and two percent by 2020. In December 2014, the Pan American Health Organization announced that this goal had been reached for 2013. This is due in part to the 24 percent increase in funds toward improving services. These prevention, reduction and medical maintenance treatment efforts are funded 93 percent through domestic resources and seven percent through international donors.
The region has shown its motivation and determination to control HIV and AIDS. However, despite the regional advancements, some low-income countries are unable to pool together resources to compete with the regional achievements. These states are improving, but their improvement may not be as high as the overall regional average. Nevertheless, given the consistent communication through regional bodies, there is already acknowledgement of and attention to the economic disparities in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Aside from political differences, the region appears to be united and dedicated to confronting HIV/AIDS for the health of their populations.
– Courteney Leinonen
Sources: AVERT, Pan American Health Organization 1, UNAIDS 1, UNAIDS 2, ECLAC, Pan American Health Organization 2