Just a few decades ago, an HIV/AIDS diagnosis used to be a death sentence. Even when highly-effective treatment was newly available, it cost upwards of $10,000 per person—a way to stay alive, but financially far beyond the reach of the majority in need. Fortunately much has changed since then; thanks to negotiation and partnership, the drugs that make up life-saving antiretroviral treatment now cost as little as 40 cents per day. Antiretroviral therapy (ART), consisting of combinations of antiretroviral drugs, has saved millions of lives by suppressing the body’s viral HIV load and halting progression of the disease. ART is not a cure for HIV or AIDS, and the drugs must be taken every day for the rest of one’s life, but it can prolong the onset of illness and enable a person to live a healthy, productive life for many years.
Currently, there are 6.6 million people around the world receiving ART, up from about 300,000 people in 2003. The number of people on treatment in sub-Saharan Africa increased from 50,000 in 2002 to more than 5 million people in 2010. The Global Fund and PEPFAR, the two largest donors providing ART treatment, support nearly 5.6 million people on ART combined. Since the introduction of ART in the mid-1990s, an estimated 2.5 million AIDS-related deaths have been averted.
That’s incredible. Two and half million people are alive today because of ART treatment, and millions more have benefitted. At the same time, there are still nearly 8 million more HIV-positive people that need access to ART treatment across the developing world. Your contribution to U.S. Foreign Assistance programs will help to expand access to treatment for those that need it and sustain treatment for those people already on ART.