More than 18m on HIV treatment, a million more than 2015

A red ribbon is put on the sleeves of a man to show support for people living with HIV during a program to raise awareness about AIDS in Katmandu, Nepal, in this file photo. (Reuters)
Updated 18 July 2018
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More than 18m on HIV treatment, a million more than 2015

LONDON: More than 18 million people now have access to life-saving AIDS treatment, 1.2 million more than at the end of last year, the UN said on Monday.

In a report on the AIDS pandemic, which has infected 78 million people and killed 35 million since it began in the 1980s, UNAIDS said the consistently strong scale-up of treatment has seen annual AIDS-related deaths drop by 45 percent to 1.1 million in 2015 from a peak of about 2 million in 2005.
But, as more HIV-positive people live longer, the challenges of caring for them as they get older, of preventing the virus spreading and of reducing new infections are tough, UNAIDS said, even though drugs can reduce virus levels in a patient’s blood to near zero and significantly reduce the risk of passing it on.
“The progress we have made is remarkable, particularly around treatment, but it is also incredibly fragile,” UNAIDS’ executive director Michel Sidibe said as the report was published.
With detailed data showing some of the many complexities of the HIV epidemic, the report found that people are particularly vulnerable to HIV at certain points in their lives.
It called for “life-cycle” approach to offer help and prevention measures for everyone at every stage of life.
As people with HIV grow older, they are at risk of developing long-term side-effects from HIV treatment, developing drug resistance and requiring treatment for other illnesses such as tuberculosis and hepatitis C.
The report also cited data from South Africa showing that young women who become infected with HIV often catch the virus from older men. It said prevention is vital to ending the epidemic in young women and the cycle of HIV infection needs to be broken.
“Young women are facing a triple threat,” said Sidibe. “They are at high risk of HIV infection, have low rates of HIV testing, and have poor adherence to treatment.”
The report, saying the number of people with HIV getting life-saving drugs was 18.2 million, also showed that the rapid progress in getting AIDS drugs to those who need them is having a significant life-extending impact.
In 2015, there were 5.8 million people aged over 50 living with HIV — more than ever before.
UNAIDS said that if treatment targets are reached — the UN is aiming to have 30 million HIV positive people on treatment by 2020 — that number will soar.


Media urged to deny Christchurch shooting accused the publicity he seeks

Updated 21 March 2019
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Media urged to deny Christchurch shooting accused the publicity he seeks

  • “We’re just going to be very careful we don’t become a platform for any kind of extremist agenda,” say Radio New Zealand chief
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern earlier urged the public not to speak the gunman's name to deny the infamy he wants

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand: The media has been urged to stop naming the man charged with the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last week that left 50 people dead.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday that she would never speak his name. In a speech to parliament, she urged the public to follow suit and deny the gunman the infamy he wants.
“I implore you, speak the names of those who were lost, rather than the name of the man who took them,” she added. “He may have sought notoriety but we in New Zealand will give him nothing, not even his name.”
Arden said the media can “play a strong role” in limiting coverage of extreme views such as his.
“Of course, people will want to know what is happening with the trial,” she said. “But I would hope there are ways that it could be covered without adding to the notoriety that this individual seeks.
“But the one thing I can assure you – you won’t hear me speak his name.”
The man accused of the mass shootings has so far been charged with one count of murder, but New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush has said further charges will be brought against him. The man said in a manifesto posted online shortly before the attacks that he intended to survive so that he could continue to spread his ideals, and that he intends to plead not guilty. He has said he plans to represent himself in court, although a judge can order a lawyer to assist him.
There have been calls for the media to refuse to report anything he says during the trial. Paul Thompson, the chief executive of Radio New Zealand, said his station will exercise caution and asked editors at all media outlets to take part in a discussion about covering the case.
“We’re just going to be very careful we don’t become a platform for any kind of extremist agenda,” he said, explaining that the station does not want to inflame the situation or become a party to the accused killer’s agenda.
Thompson described the case as “uncharted territory” but said he remains confident that his reporters will do their jobs professionally.
Dr Philip Cass, a senior lecturer in journalism at Auckland’s Unitec Institute of Technology, said the media will have to make “a very fine judgment” about what is reported if the accused killer uses the court as “a forum for the expression of his opinion.” He was wary, however, of calls to completely avoid reporting what is said in court.
“If you do that then we are moving into an area of censorship,” he said, adding that it is the media’s responsibility to provide a record of what is said and done.
Dr Catherine Strong, a journalism lecturer at Massey University, said she is confident that the media in New Zealand media will act responsibly. There is no legal or ethical imperative for journalists to report everything the accused says in court, she pointed out. The country’s media has already shown maturity by not using the name of the accused in headlines and by focusing on covering the shootings from the perspective of the victims, Strong added.

Hal Crawford, the chief news officer at MediaWorks, which owns TV3 and RadioLive in New Zealand, said, "Newshub is open to an industry-wide set of guidelines for reporting on Tarrant's trial, and we are in discussions with other newsrooms. Our aims are to minimise publicity of damaging ideology while reporting the workings of justice objectively." 

The man, who has not yet entered a plea, is due to appear in court again on April 5.