Healthcare lobby calls for accurate reporting on HIV/Aids

Saturday November 25 2017

Antiretroviral drugs. The latest report by UNAids on the number of people on treatment has been disputed. PHOTO | NMG


A lobby has cast doubts on UNAids latest report showing that access to HIV treatment has grown significantly in the past year.

Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF), which provides and supports HIV care for more than 833,000 patients in 39 countries globally, is now demanding that UNAids audit the number of people on treatment.

The disputed report, titled, “Right to Health,” shows that in 2015 an estimated 15 million people were on anti-retroviral treatment (ART), then, a year later, the figure changed to 17 million. Now, it is estimated that 21 million people are on the treatment.

Jorge Saavedra, AHF’s global public health ambassador and former head of the National Aids Programme of Mexico, says the figures are an overestimation.

Countries send their data on people who are on HIV treatment to UNAids or the World Health Organisation every year.

“There are no mechanisms to audit these global numbers and many countries do not report their numbers to UNAids or WHO. A mechanism of auditing the treatment at site level is needed either by patient census or by representative samples in different countries,” said Dr Saavedra.


“There are some methods that tend to overestimate the number of people on ART, such as only counting the volumes of procurement without taking into account if they really reached the mouth of the patient. When countries like Nigeria, India or Russia do not release their full data, UNAids should release all the assumptions used in order to estimate those numbers.”

“This new report, like prior UNAids reports, generates scepticism that the recent claims of global increase of patients under care and treatment keeps growing as if there were few difficulties at the field level, as if every one of the key stakeholders are doing their work without any resource constraints, as if the international resources targeting HIV were still increasing much like in the initial years after the creation of the Global Fund and Pepfar,” said Penninah Iutung, AHF’s bureau chief for Africa.

AHF president Michael Weinstein said, “Highlighting overly optimistic, inflated, inaccurate numbers will lead the world not just to complacency, but to a false sense that we are approaching the end of Aids.”