HIV: No longer a death sentence

by Patricia Kisare Patricia PS

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all…” (Galatians 6: 9-10)

In 2003 there were 300,000 people with HIV receiving antiretroviral medicines in low and middle income countries. That number has increased to 8 million by the end of 2011. For those receiving treatment, having HIV is no longer a death sentence.

Much of this treatment expansion is attributable to the political and financial commitments made by national governments and their international partners. Financial support by wealthy countries account for half of the spending on HIV/AIDS programs in low-income countries, underscoring the shared responsibility between heavily-impacted and donor countries.

On the other hand, the total number of people eligible for HIV treatment stands at 14.8 million. This means that 7 million more people in need of treatment are not receiving it.

Last year the U.S. government announced it was committed to helping create an AIDS-free generation, one in which no child will be born with the virus and access to treatment will be available to all in need of it.

To achieve an AIDS-free generation, care and medicine must be provided to every HIV-positive person while keeping focus on preventing new infections. Antiretroviral medicines have proven to reduce the chance of transmission by 96 percent. Therefore, as more HIV-positive people get medication, the less likely they are to infect others.  In addition to treatment, it is essential to continue making all other prevention tools accessible, especially to people who are at most risk.

As discussions about U.S. federal spending continue, we must ensure that U.S. funding commitments for global HIV/AIDS programs are protected. These funds are critical in providing care and treatment to people who cannot otherwise afford these services.

Through its Generations initiative, Mennonite Central Committee provides care, treatment and prevention services to individuals and communities affected by HIV/AIDS in 26 countries. Click here to learn more about this work.

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