It's no longer possible to rely 100% on ads to keep our organization going. If you believe in why Films For Action exists, we hope you'll become a supporter on Patreon. A monthly donation of $1, $3, $5 or more per month will really help!
Ten Things You Probably Don't Know About HIV in 2016
Ten Things You Probably Don't Know About HIV in 2016
By Francois Venter, Polly Clayden, Anele Yawa and Marcus Low / groundup.org.za
Feb 23, 2016
 

The HIV world is used to things moving fast, in a way that most medicine just doesn’t.

The reasons for this are complex, but include: strong research funding, focused and effective activism, and often younger, more dynamic and ambitious health professionals who recognised the inability of modern medical delivery systems to get treatment right.

Whatever it was, 2015 was a stellar year for HIV breakthroughs, even when measured against previous years. We now know:

  1. We should treat everyone. The HIV world’s longest running debate, about at which CD4 number (a measure of immunity) to start, was finally settled. Even at high CD4 counts, there is benefit from antiretroviral therapy (anti-HIV drugs, known as ART) against TB, pneumonia and cancer. The South African private sector will move to starting ART whenever someone is ready; the public sector is expected to follow suit soon after.

  2. HIV cure research has a long way to go. Although there were several cases of supposed cure in babies and adults, the virus came back every time. The exception was one man, who is the only known case of cure. But, huge research efforts are underway to try to untangle how to get it right.

  3. Life expectancy in HIV-positive people is pretty much normal on ART, especially if you start before you get sick or your CD4 count falls low. Studies from South Africa and other African countries, as well as from Europe and the US, have demonstrated life expectancies extending into your 70s and 80s. So, plan for grandkids and get those retirement annuities in.

  4. Modern treatment has never been safer. Less than 5% of people on ART now have to have switches in treatment, and they then have lots of other options.

  5. Modern treatment looks to be getting better still. New drugs mean smaller tablets which don’t require the high adherence levels required with current treatments. Some of these will be available in the private sector probably in the next few months, and soon in the public sector. There are even preliminary results (it’ll be a few years before available) on a new injectable antiretroviral combination, which means, like contraception, you can choose between a daily tablet or an injection every few months.

  6. We might need only two drugs or even one. The new drugs are so powerful, we might no longer need the three we’ve been using for 15 years. Do NOT try this at home, though, until the research is in.

  7. Treatment comes with a huge prevention benefit. HIV-positive people who have their virus fully suppressed on ART do not sexually transmit the virus.

  8. The drugs work in HIV-negative people too (called ‘’pre-exposure prophylaxis’’ or PrEP). Another huge breakthrough has been that giving antiretrovirals daily to HIV-negative people at high risk of getting HIV (a bit like how we give contraception to prevent pregnancy) has been shown to work very well.

  9. PrEP studies are happening in South Africa on gay men and sex workers, and the government is examining this as a country-wide option. But, the group who most needs it is young women, and different delivery models for PrEP are being looked at. We will have news this week on a long-acting vaginal ring that may deliver PrEP a little like the IUD delivers contraception.

  10. HIV is still at catastrophic levels. New HIV infection rates are still very high in South Africa, with seven million HIV-positive people. While condoms and male circumcision work, it seems it is not enough, and a vaccine, while hopeful, is some way away. The South African government has committed to the UNAIDS/WHO 90-90-90 targets (90% of people to know their status; 90% on treatment, and 90% of these are virally suppressed). Mathematical modelling suggests that this aggressive approach to treatment, with an expansion of PrEP, male circumcision, and continued condom provision, will be enough to bring the epidemic under control in the next few decades.

Venter is an HIV clinician and researcher with the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Unit.

Clayden is with HIV i-Base.

Yawa is the General Secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign.

Low is the policy director of the Treatment Action Campaign.

0.0 ·
0
Featured Films
The Staging Post: Courageous People Never Give Up! (2017)
61 min The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia 'stopped the boats' and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started the school which inspired a refugee education revolution. A real-life...
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective (2015)
92 min Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our...
Within Reach (2013)
87 min Within Reach explores one couple's pedal-powered search for a place to call home. Mandy and Ryan gave up their jobs, cars, and traditional houses to 'bike-pack' 6500 miles around the USA seeking sustainable community. Rather than looking in a traditional neighborhood, they...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th century when it forced Native American children into government boarding schools. Today, volunteers...
Fall and Winter (2013)
102 min This stunning film takes you on a hypnotic journey, reaching to the past to understand the origins of the catastrophic environmental transitions we now face. Over two years, director Matt Anderson traveled 16,000 miles to document firsthand our modern industrial world and the...
The Economics of Happiness (2011)
65 min Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment. There...
Trending Today


Love Films For Action? Become a Patron!

Our Patreon campaign is now live! We hope you'll be among the first to support this new direction for Films For Action. The goal is to go 100% ad-free by next year and become 100% member supported. A monthly pledge of just $1 -5 per month x a few thousand awesome people will ensure we can continue our work and grow our impact across the world. Click here to join.

Join us on Facebook
Ten Things You Probably Don't Know About HIV in 2016