Tag Archives: ARV

Global HIV drive hampered without drugs for ‘neglected’ West and Central Africa

HIVAfrica

A global drive to help curb the HIV epidemic by 2020 will fail unless millions of people with the virus in West and Central Africa receive life-saving drugs, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Wednesday.

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The United Nations AIDS program (UNAIDS) launched a five-year treatment program in 2014 to ensure that by 2020 almost all people with HIV worldwide know their status and receive treatment.

The drugs used to treat HIV also help to curb the spread of the virus.

Only one in four adults and one in 10 children living with HIV in West and Central Africa have access to antiretroviral (ARV) drugs, compared to almost half of HIV sufferers in Eastern and Southern Africa, MSF said.

HIV treatment is not considered a priority in West and Central Africa by donors or governments, as the region has a smaller percentage of people infected with HIV than Eastern and Southern Africa, said Mit Philips, health policy advisor at MSF.

“Donors focus mostly on high prevalence countries, like in Southern Africa, where everyone knows someone affected by HIV,” Philips told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Brussels.

Parts of Southern Africa have the world’s highest HIV rates, including Swaziland where 27 percent of people aged 15 to 49 have HIV, and South Africa which has a prevalence rate of nearly 20 percent.

“People with HIV in West and Central Africa are neglected … the low prevalence rate is misleading but means there is a lack of interest and that the disease is less visible in society,” Philips added.

Two percent of people in West and Central Africa have HIV, yet the region accounts for one in five new infections annually worldwide, one in four AIDS-related deaths and almost half of all children born with HIV, according to MSF.

While conflict across the region and epidemics of other diseases like Ebola have hindered HIV treatment, stigma, weak health systems and lack of political will have worsened the situation, MSF said in a report published on Wednesday.

“Many people face an obstacle course to obtain ARV drugs – they face stigma within society and even prejudice from health workers, struggle to pay transport or consultation fees, and often find there are low stocks of the drugs,” Philips said.

Some 36.9 million people worldwide are living with HIV, which is spread through blood, semen and breast milk and causes AIDS, and more than half of them do not have access to treatment. Many do not know they have the virus.

UNAIDS said in November that its treatment program, called 90-90-90, was starting to show results as the nearly 16 million people being treated by June 2015 was double the number in 2010.

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Alex Whiting; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

TWB  FBB

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Prayer is good, prayer and medication is better!

Pastor Elizabeth was told that prayer was all she needed to fight HIV, she stopped taking her medication after faith leaders insisted she cease taking anti-HIV and life saving drugs.  She wrestled with the decision and is now an advocate for taking medication.  She says “If you are sick, and someone tells you not to take medication, they are misleading you.  Pastor Elizabeth realises this and wishes to share that HIV is simply an illness which requires medication.

At the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the early eighties, some faith leaders preached that only ‘sinners’ contracted the virus, advising that the only solution for those living with HIV was to pray hard for forgiveness. While many faith leaders have since realised that HIV is simply a virus that can affect anyone, unfortunately some haven’t. In fact, a few have gone even further, telling those in their congregations who are living with HIV to stop taking their Antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) and instead concentrate on praying because that’s the only way they will experience emotional and physical healing.

Whether praying to be healed from HIV is being preached in select churches, or some church-goers living with HIV are misinterpreting what their faith leaders are telling them, a number of HIV positive people have died as a result of stopping their HIV medication. What remains unclear is how many people are being converted to this way of thinking. Is this a big problem warranting a global intervention, or are we making a mountain out of a molehill? I personally don’t know the definitive answers to these questions, but what I can say is that where prayer and HIV healing are concerned, I have witnessed and have heard of some pretty bizarre behaviour among people living with HIV, particularly within African communities in the UK and in some parts of Africa.

It was reported in October 2011 that blind faith in prayer claimed the lives of three people who were HIV positive.  At least three people in London with HIV died after they stopped taking life saving drugs on the advice of their Evangelical Christian pastors.

The women died after attending churches in London where they were encouraged to stop taking the antiretroviral drugs in the belief that God would heal them, their friends and a leading HIV doctor said.

HIV prevention charity African Health Policy Network (AHPN) says a growing number of London churches have been telling people the power of prayer will “cure” their infections.

“This is happening through a number of churches. We’re hearing about more cases of this,” AHPN chief Francis Kaikumba said.

Whether you believe in religion or not, there is absolutely nothing wrong with prayer to help you with HIV, however there is everything wrong with discontinuing medication in favour of prayer.  Take time to consider the different mechanises to combat HIV.  Prayer may help the soul and medication will help the body.  There are a lot of people of all faiths in within research and development who would hope you look after your body too.

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Blind Faith: The Impact Religion Can Have On HIV

Source: http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2011/05/17/blind-faith-the-serious-impact-religion-can-have-on-hiv/ By Winnie Ssanyu Sseruma

When people face a traumatic event or experience in life they often seek solace in something they believe in; something that will offer potential solutions and fill the emotional and spiritual vacuum when everything else has failed. As you’d expect, many people living with HIV seek solace in their religious faith, and for some that becomes their whole life’s focus. However, religious faith and HIV continue to have a challenging relationship, to say the very least.

At the beginning of the HIV epidemic back in the Eighties, some faith leaders preached that only ‘sinners’ contracted the virus, advising that the only solution for those living with HIV was to pray hard for forgiveness. While many faith leaders have since realised that HIV is simply a virus that can affect anyone, unfortunately some haven’t. In fact, a few have gone even further, telling those in their congregations who are living with HIV to stop taking their Antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) and instead concentrate on praying because that’s the only way they will experience emotional and physical healing.

Whether praying to be healed from HIV is being preached in select churches, or some church-goers living with HIV are misinterpreting what their faith leaders are telling them, a number of HIV positive people have died as a result of stopping their HIV medication. What remains unclear is how many people are being converted to this way of thinking. Is this a big problem warranting a global intervention, or are we making a mountain out of a molehill? I personally don’t know the definitive answers to these questions, but what I can say is that where prayer and HIV healing are concerned, I have witnessed and have heard of some pretty bizarre behaviour among people living with HIV, particularly within African communities in the UK and in some parts of Africa.

ARV treatments save lives and many of us who are taking them now would not even be here today to tell the tale if we didn’t have access to them. We now have scientific evidence from recent trials to confirm that these drugs not only save lives but can also act as an effective barrier to HIV transmission. This is by no means new information for those living with HIV and or working in the HIV sector, but having sound evidence to back our experiences up is always a bonus.

Despite such compelling evidence, there are always some who, for one reason or another, continue to reject anti-HIV medication. I have had conversations with people who have told me that they’d originally tested HIV positive but miraculously no longer carry the virus as a result of prayer and rejection of ARV treatment. I have also heard of HIV positive people who have actually testified at their places of worship that they have been ‘cured of HIV through prayer’, as well as a small minority of faith leaders who somehow manage to convince their followers that taking ARVs will kill them outright. Some HIV positive people also visit witch doctors, sangomas, and/or traditional healers, and are predictably told that no trace of HIV exists in their blood, encouraging them to abandon their ARVs altogether. In fact, the discussion about witch doctors and HIV deserves a blog of its own!

Overall, I respect the fact that faith is very individual and private, and whatever people want to believe is entirely up to them. However, this can make it very difficult to monitor any negative impacts that religious faith might have on the lives of vulnerable populations targeted by those who wish to exploit them and extort what little money they have. How many people are targeted, I don’t think anyone knows, but I strongly feel that this is a worrying phenomenon that deserves much more attention, and possible interventions, if we are to continue to help save lives.

What I am very clear about is that ARV treatment and prayer should complement each other, not compete against each other. Above all else, the God I have faith in is a generous one and helps those who help themselves by taking advantage of the opportunities presented to them

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