Global Health Observatory (GHO)

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage among all age groups


As of December 2012, an estimated 9.7 million people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving antiretroviral therapy. This represented an increase of
1.6 million people, or 20%, over the number receiving such treatment 12 months earlier. That brings the world nearly two-thirds of the way towards the 2015 target of 15 million people receiving accessing antiretroviral treatment. Under the 2010 WHO guidelines, 61% [57%–66%] of all persons eligible for HIV treatment in low- and middle-income countries had obtained antiretroviral therapy in 2012. In the WHO African Region, 63% [59%–66%] of people eligible for treatment were able to access life-saving medicines in 2012. Similarly, 75% [66%–85%] in the Region of the Americas, 15% [11%–20%] in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, 38% [33%–43%] in the European Region, 50% [43%–65%] in the South-East Asia Region and 53% [35%–91%] in the Western Pacific Region were accessing such treatment. It is increasingly clear that everyone infected with HIV will eventually need treatment. With an estimated 35.3 [32.2–38] million people now living with HIV, this represents a significant need to scale up HIV testing and treatment, while continuing to invest in prevention and other programmes to combat new infections.

At the end of 2012, 15 low- and middle-income countries, including five countries with generalized epidemics (Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa and Swaziland), and nine countries with low- and concentrated epidemics (Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Romania and Turkey), had already achieved universal access to antiretroviral therapy, commonly understood as providing antiretroviral therapy to at least 80% of the people who need it.

Overall antiretroviral therapy coverage among children was lower than among adults in low- and middle-income countries. Children represented 7% of the people receiving antiretroviral therapy and 12% of the people who needed it. Of the 1 900 000
[1 700 000–2 200 000] children estimated to need antiretroviral therapy, only 34% [31–39%] had access to treatment versus 64% of adults [60–69%].


ART coverage has increased rapidly since 2003 from just 400 000 to 9.7 million by the end of 2012. The estimated ART coverage in low- and middle-income countries increased from 53% in 2010 to 61% in 2011. The greatest increase occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, where ART was uncommon up to 2003 (100 000 people on ART) and increased over 75-fold to 7.5 million in 2012. Regions that have made less progress are those in which the epidemic is predominantly concentrated in populations with lower access and utilization of services, such as sex workers, injecting drug users, and men who have sex with men.


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