Report: AIDS cases in Africa to far outpace treatment by 2020

The number of HIV/AIDS cases in Africa is on pace to far outpace treatment resources by the end of the decade, according to an Institute of Medicine report released Monday.

By 2020, the number of infected people in Africa will grow to more than 30 million from today's approximately 22 million. Only about 12 million of those 30 million will be eligible for antiretroviral therapy (ART) paid for in part by the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other international efforts; and of those eligible, a little more than half — 7 million — will be likely to receive treatment, according to the report.

"Already in Uganda and a few other nations, we don't have enough healthcare workers or ART to meet demands, and health centers are increasingly turning away patients who need these drugs to survive," said David Serwadda, a former dean of a School of Public Health in the east African nation and co-chair of the committee that wrote the report. "There is an urgent need for African countries and the U.S. to share responsibility and initiate systematic planning now for the future. If we don't act to prevent new infections, we will witness an exponential increase in deaths and orphaned children in sub-Saharan Africa in just a couple of decades."

The report calls for a renewed emphasis on reducing the rate of new infections, promoting more efficient models of care and encouraging shared responsibility between African nations and the U.S. for treatment and prevention efforts. In particular, the report notes that because treatment can only reach a fraction of those who need it and its costs are "not sustainable for the foreseeable future," preventing new infections should be a central tenet of a long-term response to HIV/AIDS in Africa.