Antiretroviral drugs

Antiretroviral drugs

  • Hope for Africa in the AIDS Fight

    The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) says that Africa is now at ‘a make-it or break-it moment’ in response to the HIV-AIDS epidemic.

    Speaking from Addis Ababa, UNAIDS executive director, Michael Sidibe, points out that there have been massive advances over the past decade in the fight against AIDS in Africa.

    Sidibe, who maintains that the fight to acquire affordable AIDS drugs has been successful, states that costs are now down to US$120 per person per year, and over five million HIV-positive people are receiving treatment in Africa.

    To read the article titled, “Continent at 'make-it or break-it moment' over AIDS,” click here.


    All Africa
  • AIDS Pill Can Slash HIV Infection Risk – Study

    Two studies conducted in Africa showed for the first time that AIDS drugs designed to treat HIV can also be used to reduce dramatically the risk of infection among heterosexual couples.

    The findings add to growing evidence that the type of medicines prescribed since the mid-1990s to treat people who are already sick may also hold the key to slowing or even halting the spread of the sexually transmitted disease.

    In a press statement, World Health Organisation (WHO), director-general, Margaret Chan, states that, "Effective new HIV prevention tools are urgently needed and these studies could have enormous impact in preventing heterosexual transmission." Chan says that WHO will now work with countries to use the new findings to implement better protection strategies.

    To read the article titled, “Once-daily AIDS pill can slash HIV infection risk,” click here.

  • No Excuse for Neglecting 10 Million People With HIV

    Governments must commit to massively scale up treatment at UN Summit on AIDS
    Governments will meet at the United Nations (UN) in New York for an HIV/AIDS Summit from 8 to 10 June, to discuss the global response to the epidemic over the next five to ten years. Hanging in the balance will be the lives of the 10 million people in urgent need of treatment, at a time when the latest science tells us that treating HIV not only saves lives, but also dramatically reduces transmission of the virus from one person to another – by 96 percent.
    10 years ago, at the first major UN meeting on HIV/AIDS, then- Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, called for a ‘war chest’ to respond to the epidemic. The decade that followed saw an unprecedented mobilisation of political will and funding to put six million people put on life-saving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs).  But much more is needed to break the back of the epidemic.
    Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) began treating HIV/AIDS in 2000, and has seen the tremendous positive effect treatment has had on people and communities, reducing deaths and illness. The introduction of ARVs has transformed HIV from a death sentence to a manageable chronic disease. More and more people are receiving treatment – now more than six million in developing countries – and there are now new tools, treatment strategies and innovations that can help reach even more people.  
    One major factor that allowed treatment scale-up to today’s levels was the fact that the price of ARVs dropped dramatically over the past decade, from more than US$10 000 in 2000 to roughly US$150 today. This price decline has made lifesaving drugs accessible to millions of people in developing countries. The newer generation of ARVs has fewer side-effects, which has a positive effect on people’s ability to adhere to their treatment. 
    Another factor that has helped expand treatment is bringing care closer to patients, to local community clinics and health posts. This has particularly improved access to treatment for people in remote rural areas, who otherwise would struggle to find time and money to travel to distant central hospitals. Innovative models where patients are empowered to play an active role in managing their own treatment has also helped solve some of the issues related to distance, and has helped alleviate the burden on health systems. Moreover, shifting tasks from doctors to nurses, and in turn from nurses to lay workers, has reduced the pressure on overburdened health staff without compromising on quality of care. 
    The lessons learned over the last decade have shown us how to reach people with care in developing countries. The World Health Organisation now recommends people receive better-tolerated medicines, earlier in their disease progression, before they become very sick. This is an important step in the right direction. And there are innovations on the way that could help us more easily reach even more people. New drugs and innovative formulations; ways of producing drugs that could bring their cost down; simpler and easier-to-use diagnostic tools to monitor how patients are doing on treatment – these will help make the job of scaling up treatment even more feasible.  
    But all of this requires political will – this cannot be done without the financial resources from international donors and domestic investments in the countries affected. Scaling up treatment to all people in need will only be possible if leaders honour their past commitments by providing sustained funding, and by ensuring that drugs are affordable and available. Leaders also need to support policies to put effective treatment strategies in place and support the research and development of better, more affordable and simpler-to-use medicines and medical tools.
    The job is far from finished. The lessons of how to reach more people with care, coupled with the critical new science that shows us treatment can help us get ahead of the wave of new infections, tell us that now is the time to push forward with ambitious plans to get treatment to people in need.  There is simply no excuse for politicians to neglect the ten million people who will die without treatment in the next several years.  
    In the lead-up to the UN High-level meeting, MSF is releasing a series of five videos that illustrate innovative tools and models that could help make improved HIV treatment accessible to many more.
    30 May - Bringing HIV treatment closer to patients 
    31 May - Reducing pressure on health services by task-shifting 
    1 June - Enabling healthy lives with antiretroviral drugs 
    6 June - Benefits of starting HIV treatment earlier
    For more about Médecins Sans Frontières, refer to
  • Empowering HIV-Patients to Manage their Care

    In northern Mozambique, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is empowering HIV-patients to take an active part in managing their disease.

    In this five-part video-clip series, MSF demonstrates tools and models that could help make improved treatment accessible to many more. Between 8-10 June 2011, world leaders will meet in New York to decide on the future of the millions needing treatment urgently. By sharing this video, help MSF spread the word that there is NO EXCUSE for governments to leave 10 million people untreated! 

    For more about Médecins Sans Frontières, refer to

  • Johannesburg Clinics Run Low on AIDS Drugs

    The Gauteng Department of Health says it is dispatching an antiretroviral drug to clinics around Johannesburg that have run low on stock.

    The department spokesperson, Simon Zwane, points out that, “We have done a quick investigation and established that the clinics have not kept sufficient stock.”

    Zwane states that the department will be dispatching more drugs to those clinics starting today already and continuing tomorrow.

    To read the article titled, “Joburg clinics running low on AIDS drugs,” click here.
  • New Twist in South Africa's AIDS War

    Authorities and health experts say South Africans living with AIDS are being robbed of their lifesaving drugs so that they can be mixed with marijuana and smoked.

    The concoction is called ‘whoonga’ -- less a word than an exclamation -- and it adds a bizarre twist to the war on HIV/AIDS in the world's worst-affected country just as it embarks on a massive distribution of antiretrovirals.

    AIDS expert, Njabulo Mabaso, points out that there is no evidence that any ingredient of the AIDS drug cocktail is addictive or does anything to enhance the marijuana high.

    Mabaso says that ‘whoonga’ smokers may be fooling themselves into believing the AIDS drugs are giving them a high, when it is really some other ingredient.

    To read the article titled, “New twist in SA's AIDS war,” click here.
  • Zim in Need of Anti-AIDS Drugs

    Zimbabwe’s health ministry say the country may not have enough anti-AIDS drugs to comply with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations on providing treatment to people with HIV.

    Coordinator of HIV Treatment in the health ministry, Tsitsi Mutasa Apollo, points out that the number of people in need of treatment will double if the department follows the WHO plan.

    "We are likely to experience more drug shortages," says Apollo.

    Currently, the country treats about 200 000 people whose immune systems have been severely weakened by the disease, but the WHO recommends that treatment should start earlier.

    To read the article titled, “Zim lacks Aids drugs to expand,” click here.

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