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
18 Jul, 2009|
Uganda / Science: Circumcision in HIV-infected men and its effect on HIV transmission to female partners in Rakai, Uganda: a randomised controlled trial.
Observational studies have reported an association between male circumcision and reduced risk of HIV infection in female partners. Wawer and colleagues set out to assess whether circumcision in HIV-infected men would reduce transmission of the virus to female sexual partners.
27 Apr, 2009|
South Africa / Treatment-gender: The impact of gender and income on survival and retention in a South African antiretroviral the
Despite the rapid expansion of antiretroviral therapy services in Africa, there are few data on whether outcomes differ for women and men and what factors may drive such variation. Cornell and colleagues investigated the association of gender and income with survival and retention in a South African antiretroviral therapy programme. A total of 2196 treatment naïve adults were followed for 1 year on antiretroviral therapy.
6 Apr, 2009|
In preparation for the June UN High Level Meeting on AIDS, for the first time in the 30 year history of AIDS, women from around the world to speak to the successes, challenges, and key lessons learned. Five key priorities were identified through the consultations: 1: Inclusive and holistic prevention, treatment, care, and support for women in all of their diversity 2: Solidarity 3: Gender equality 4: Safety 5: Education, including sexuality education Documents To read a global summary of the consultation, read the global priorities.pdf Summary fact sheets regional priorities - as
6 Jan, 2009|
HIV-infected women who start antiretroviral treatment during pregnancy have similar or better immunological outcomes in the first two and a half years on treatment as non-pregnant women as well as men in the MTCT-Plus Initiative covering seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Thailand from 2003-2006 reported Patricia Toro and colleagues in the journal AIDS. The authors also noted lower mortality rates as well as high retention in care for all patients starting antiretroviral treatment when compared to other multi-site studies in similar settings. These findings lend further support to the
1 Jan, 2008|
UNICEF Women and AIDS Report, Malaysia
1 Jan, 2007|
NAM - HIV and Women
1 Apr, 2006|
ICW Silent Voices
1 Jan, 2006|
GCWA Keeping the Promise: An Agenda for Action on Women (EN)
1 Jan, 2006|
GCWA Keeping the Promise: An Agenda for Action on Women (ES)
1 Jan, 2006|
GCWA Keeping the Promise: An Agenda for Action on Women (FR)