Many countries “are really seeing the benefit of putting their people on treatment,” he said.
“Fewer deaths, less sickness,” took a burden off the healthcare system and meant HIV patients could remain in the workforce and contribute to the economy for longer, he said.
This, in addition to the belief that more treatment will help avert infections, eventually leaving fewer people to treat, makes the investment a no-brainer, Sidibe said.
ART has reached 30 times more people last year than a decade earlier, when only 300,000 people in low and middle-income countries were receiving the then exceedingly expensive drugs, said Gundo Weiler of WHO’s HIV/AIDS department.
“Over the last decade, the scale-up of antiretroviral treatment in low and middle-income countries has averted 4.2 million deaths,” he said.
Efforts to avoid mother-to-fetus transmission of the disease had also helped 800,000 children escape infection.
However, Weiler and others warned yesterday that children infected with HIV were still one of the main groups left out with only one of three children needing antiretroviral treatment receiving it, according to 2011 statistics.