HIV is an uncommon type of virus called a retrovirus, and drugs developed to disrupt the action of HIV are known as antiretrovirals or ARVs. These come in a variety of formulations designed to act on different stages of the life-cycle of HIV.
The AIDS virus mutates rapidly, which makes it extremely skilful at developing resistance to drugs. To minimize this risk, people with HIV are generally treated with a combination of ARVs that attack the virus on several fronts at once.
The introduction of ARVs in 1996 transformed the treatment of HIV and AIDS, improving the quality and greatly prolonging the lives of many infected people in places where the drugs are available. Nevertheless, ARVs are not a cure. If treatment is discontinued the virus becomes active again, so a person on ARVs must take them for life.
Although the price of ARVs has fallen significantly in recent years, their cost remains an obstacle to access in the developing world. Moreover, the health infrastructure required to deliver antiretroviral therapy is lacking in many places.
Access to drugs depends not only on financial and human resources. It depends also on people who need them being aware of their HIV status, knowledgeable about treatment, and empowered to seek it.
Thus public information and education are important elements in widening access, alongside efforts to build or strengthen the health services. The campaign for universal access to life saving drugs for HIV and AIDS, started originally by grassroots AIDS activists, is today a major focus of attention of UN agencies and others influential organizations at national and global levels.
The Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, unanimously endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 2001, embraced equitable access to care and treatment as a fundamental component of a comprehensive and effective global HIV response. Since then many countries, through the support of intergovernmental organizations and donors, have definitively demonstrated the feasibility of delivering HIV treatment in even the most resource-limited settings. Access to treatment has helped mobilize communities in the response to HIV, preserved the health and viability of households vulnerable to HIV, and strengthened HIV prevention efforts in many parts of the world.
In the goal to reach universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, national leadership is required to establish policies that support the momentum of treatment scale-up through efforts to: increase the number of people who choose to know their HIV status; reduce HIV stigma; build human capacity to sustain treatment through training and better use of current human resources; improve supply management and integrate HIV care with other health services.
The latest from the GCWA
8 Jun, 2011|
At the United Nations in New York, leader are gathering to chart the future of the global response to HIV.
22 Nov, 2010|
Women account for an increasing proportion of patients with HIV-1 but remain underrepresented in antiretroviral clinical trials. The objective of the analysis was to evaluate sex-based differences in efficacy and adverse events in treatment-experienced, HIV-positive women and men receiving darunavirritonavir therapy over 48 weeks. This was a multicentre, open-label, phase 3b study designed to enrol a high proportion of women, with sample size determined on the basis of a noninferiority design with a maximum allowable difference of 15% in virologic response favouring men.
13 Jan, 2010|
HIV tests will soon become compulsory for all expectant mothers as the Health Ministry carries out a Shs 2.3 billion merger of Sexual Reproductive Health (RH) and HIV programmes this fiscal year. According to Dr. Collins Tusingwire, a Senior Medical Officer in-charge of integrating RH and HIV services, the integration has reached 80% of all health facilities in the country. These include regional referral hospitals, district health centres and Health Centres (HC-3s).
20 Dec, 2009|
WASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)--Ice was broken here in early December among three powerful groups of South Asian women. About 20 female parliamentarians, journalists and staff members of nonprofit groups in South Asia left Washington, D.C., with strategies they believed could reduce the current specter of women losing their homes after caring for spouses who died of AIDS, as well as aiding HIV-positive women who are unable to reach rural clinics and teens who aren't aware of how to prevent the infection. They were also carrying with them a loose agreement to work together within their region to sto
9 Dec, 2009|
Zambia / Treatment: Antiretroviral therapy in antenatal care to increase treatment initiation in HIV-infected pregnant women: a
The objective of this study was to evaluate whether providing antiretroviral therapy (ART) integrated in antenatal care clinics resulted in a greater proportion of treatment-eligible women initiating antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy compared with the existing approach of referral to antiretroviral therapy. The evaluation used a stepped-wedge design and included all HIVinfected, antiretroviral therapy-eligible pregnant women in eight public sector clinics in Lusaka district, Zambia.
1 Dec, 2009|
Last month my second son, Jack, would have been 17 years old, were it not for AIDS. That’s how long ago that I learnt that I am HIV positive. I was 33. That means a third of my life has now been spent with my knowing that I share my body with this bug. How does that make me feel? Physically speaking, I am very healthy, You can see that just by looking at me. My CD4 count is 650 or so and last month I cycled 45 miles one day on holiday – and apart from a sore bum, felt just fine.
25 Nov, 2009|
World / Violence: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Statement by Michel Sidibé, Executive Directo
UNAIDS is fully committed to stop violence against women and girls. The response to HIV provides an opportunity to reduce intimate partner and sexual violence and develop comprehensive responses to gender-based violence and HIV prevention within and beyond the health sector. There is strong evidence of the links between gender-based violence and HIV.
15 Nov, 2009|
Burkina Faso / Gender-Access to Treatment: Gender asymmetry in healthcare-facility attendance of people living with HIV/AIDS in
Anthropological research in Burkina Faso indicates that more HIV-positive women than HIV-positive men are attending care facilities for people living with HIV and accessing antiretroviral medicine. This article, situated in the field of study of interactions between gender and AIDS, offers a description of this asymmetry and an anthropological analysis of the socio-cultural determinants, through analysis of data from ethnographic research among people living with HIV and health actors. Examining social representations of femininity and masculinity in Burkinabe society and the organisation of
1 Sep, 2009|
Zambia / Treatment: Treating cervical cancer and HIV simultaneously. Too few women are getting screened
LUSAKA, 1 September 2009 (PlusNews) - The HIV/AIDS epidemic may have contributed to the high incidence of cervical cancer in Zambia, where the number of cases is the second highest in sub-Saharan Africa, and HIV prevalence is one of the highest in the world. Women infected with HIV are thought to be three to five times more likely to develop cervical lesions that can become cancerous.
1 Sep, 2009|
SRH-HIV linkages: evidence, review and recommendations