MARCO LONGARI/AFP PHOTO
Patients look on while a group of Hiv positive actors perform at the Mikolongwe health center, on November 27, 2014. Despite the rapid scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART), patients still encounter barriers accessing treatment. At the same time health systems struggle to provide care to the growing number of patients on ART.
A number of clinic and/or community based strategies, such as a decentralisation of services to health centres and health posts, providing longer drug supplies to patients and drug refills through fast track systems, adherence clubs and community distribution points, have been implemented to reduce the burden on health workers and patients. Community ART Groups (CAGs) are one such strategy for ART distribution, whereby groups of patients rotate for clinic visits and drug refill at the clinic while dispensing drugs to their peers in the community and ensuring peer support. Massively hit by the Hiv virus, the Thyolo district was introduced to ARV in 2003 with more than 57.000 patients, 38.000 of them are still alive and on monitored therapy. ARV consists of the combination of at least three antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to maximally suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of HIV disease.
It's now thirty years since the discover of the virus who caused the death of millions of people worldwide. According to Dr Eric Goemaere, MSF’s HIV referent, "The progresses made in the fight against HIV in just thirty years are remarkable: putting 13.6 million people on lifelong treatment, most of them in resource-poor countries, and keeping them on treatment for life on treatment is an overwhelming task, at a scale never achieved by public services before." AFP PHOTO/MARCO LONGARI