Element 3: Treatment
The coverage of anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment is measured as the number of people in advanced stages of HIV infection who receive treatment as a percentage of the estimated number of people in need of such treatment. This is one of the most commonly used indicators of the quality of country responses to AIDS. ARV treatment may prolong life for an HIV-positive person by several years, if not decades. Marginalized, vulnerable and least-well-off populations, however, often have less access to potentially life-saving treatment.
The mean score varies greatly between groups of countries. Not surprisingly, coverage reflects country income levels – the mean score of high-income countries is more than twice that of low-income countries. It is noteworthy, however, that this high score for high-income countries is based on a very poor 38 percent of those countries reporting. This leads to a clear and unfortunate conclusion: many of the high-income countries that provide funding for treatment in the poorer countries, and for which they demand precise monitoring and reporting, do not themselves live up to the standards they set for the AIDS responses of others.