According to UNAIDS, there were approximately 36.7 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2016. Of these, 2.1 million were children (<15 years old). As of July 2017, 20.9 million people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally, up from 15.8 million in June 2015, 7.5 million in 2010, and less than one million in 2000.
HIV treatment known as Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) is medication which is given to HIV positive people to treat HIV but it doesn’t cure HIV. Researchers are still doing a great work to find a cure.
Briefly, today I want to talk about how useful it is to take ART. Not only useful to people living with HIV but also to the HIV-negative.
As a person who has lived with HIV since my childhood though I got to know about my status in 2008, at the age of 14. I used to fall sick everyday because I had serious illnesses.
I began treatment in 2008 and within some few months my health eventually changed. That is when I realized the POWER OF HIV TREATMENT -- and till now I’m alive and kicking!
HIV Treatment is not only ‘a life giver but also a life saver’ and a lot of research has been done to back up the statement. With intervention through different studies, for instance the Swiss study, HPTN 052, Opposites Attract and the Partner Study (one and two), science has proven that someone who is taking his or her HIV treatment effectively cannot pass HIV on sexually. The chance of transmission is ZERO. Undetectable equals Untransmittable.
This life-changing and revolutionary intervention has been endorsed by over 550 organizations globally and if you would like to be sign as partner and to get more information, visit the Prevention Acccess Campaign, here.
"... where have we lagged behind as far as treatment and prevention is concerned? Have you played your role?"
Pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) are other interventions that were introduced to save lives of HIV-negative people from acquiring HIV. Pre means before and post means after.
PrEP is a daily HIV medication that is taken by an HIV-negative person before having sex with an infected person and PEP is an HIV medication given to a negative person after getting exposed to HIV, for example after experiencing rape, but this works before 72 hours elapses and must be taken for 28 days regularly. For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), here.
In conclusion, where have we lagged behind as far as treatment and prevention is concerned? Have you played your role? Let’s go back to the drawing board to ensure that everyone living with HIV has access to HIV treatment. This will help us to hit the 90-90-90 goal of UNAIDS by 2020 and also help us score the final goal of an HIV cure.
Matovu William is a peer education worker and HIV treatment access advocate with Uganda's Love to Love Organization.