Countries that have been worst affected by HIV must focus on preventing new infections and expanding access to anti-retroviral treatment to stop the risk of epidemic rebounding, says a new report from the UNAIDS and Lancet Commission.
"We must face hard truths – if the current rate of new HIV infections continues, merely sustaining the major efforts we already have in place will not be enough to stop deaths from AIDS increasing within five years in many countries," said lead author and professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
While unprecedented progress has been made to increase access to HIV treatment globally, the rate of new HIV infections is not falling fast enough, the report said.
This, plus the high demographic growth in some of the most affected countries, is increasing the number of people living with HIV who will need anti-retroviral therapy to stay alive.
"We have to act now. The next five years provide a fragile window of opportunity to fast-track the response and end the AIDS epidemic by 2030," said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS.
"If we don’t, the human and financial consequences will be catastrophic," Sidibe said.
The report clearly shows the urgent need for substantial global solidarity to front-load investments. The need for investment is particularly acute in low-income countries with a high HIV burden.
The report also called for leveraging lessons learned in the AIDS response to be applied to new and existing global health challenges.
The report makes seven key recommendations, leading with the urgent need to scale up AIDS efforts, get serious about HIV prevention, and continue expanding access to treatment.
Other recommendations include efficient mobilisation of more resources for HIV prevention, treatment, and research, and for robust, transparent governance and accountability for HIV and health.