Continued Success in HIV Treatment in Bugisi

 

bugisi clinic.PNG
Image via Gilead

World Aids Day is marked on 1 December each year and falls during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence. 

HIV disproportionately affects women and adolescent girls because of their unequal cultural, social and economic status in society. [UNAIDS (2017) Ending AIDS: Progress towards the 90-90-90 targets.]

Intimate partner violence, inequitable laws and harmful traditional practices reinforce unequal power dynamics between men and women, with young women particularly disadvantaged. HIV is not only driven by gender inequality, but it also entrenches gender inequality, leaving women more vulnerable to its impact. [WHO (2017) ‘Consolidated guideline on sexual and reproductive health and rights of women living with HIV’]

According to UNAIDS:

  • Around 7000 young women aged 15–24 years become infected with HIV every week.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, three in four new infections among adolescents aged 15–19 years are in girls.
  • Young women aged 15–24 years are twice as likely to be living with HIV than men.
  • More than one third (35%) of women around the world have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some time in their lives.

The Bugisi clinic in Tanzania, run by our dedicated OLA sisters have been successfully implementing the ‘Test and Treat’ project in Bugisi District, Shinyanga Region for the last few years. Gilead Sciences is collaborating with the Diocese of Shinyanga, the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles, and Doctors with Africa CUAMM, a Catholic medical mission, to enhance the church's existing HIV services and strengthen the local healthcare system. The project was launched on 11 February 2014 and the aim is to aggressively test people for HIV and immediately put those who test positive on antiretroviral treatment (ART) regardless of their CD4 levels or clinical stage. The theory behind this is not only that ART reduces the risk of transmitting HIV by lowering the viral load but also that earlier initiation of ART leads to better health outcomes for the patient.

The project has made an enormous impact in the region and continues to grow. In the last year 120000 people have received an HIV test. 3000 of those have started anti-retroviral treatment. The virus is now undetectable in 90% of patients.

Click on the link below to watch a video giving an overview of the project.

https://vimeo.com/281283071/01f1865d4e