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AIDS Considered Chronic Disease 30 Years After Initial Diagnosis Updated: 2010-07-26 00:00:00 KST

Nearly three decades have passed since the world's very first identified cases of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, better known as AIDS, were confirmed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1981.
And over the next 29 years, more than 25 million people around the world have succumbed to the disease and as of the year 2008 some 3.3 million people are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
After seeing a rapid global expansion of HIV infection between the late 1990s and the beginning of the new millenium, advanced nations declared an all-out war against the virus by investing into research and development of some 20 different anti-retroviral treatments.
A recent report released prior to the International AIDS Conference held in Vienna last week presented a positive outlook on the global infection rate.
A bigger choice of treatment coupled with systematic management by governments have helped 16 out of 25 countries with the highest infection rate see a decline in newly infected cases among those between the ages of 15 and 24 in the past decade.
The average life expectancy following diagnosis, which used to be around seven years, has also surged significantly with many considering AIDS a chronic disease and no longer a death sentence.
Such optimism, however, only applies to the developed world, taking into account the cost of state management and the burden of relatively expensive treatment for an individual carrying HIV.
Data shows two-thirds of the world's total HIV patients live in sub-Saharan Africa, where up to four million infected people are receiving treatment and double that number is beyond the reach.
And on top of that, the recent global financial turmoil has forced developed nations from cutting down their aid funds pledged to assist those that lack access to proper health care.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS, in fact, has failed to meet its 2001 goal of guaranteeing everyone access to AIDS treatment and management by this year, regardless of their nationality or social status.
Experts say it is time for the international community to join hands once again to open universal access to affordable anti-retroviral drugs, as well as a wide range of generic medicine.
Choi You-sun, Arirang News.
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