Antiretroviral therapy for HIV prevention: many concerns and challenges, but are there ways forward in sub-Saharan Africa?
AffiliationMédecins Sans Frontières, Medical Department (Operational Research), Brussels Operational Centre, Belgium.
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AbstractScientists from the WHO have presented a theoretical mathematical model of the potential impact of universal voluntary HIV testing and counselling followed by immediate antiretroviral therapy (ART). The results of the model suggests that, in a generalised epidemic as severe as that in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), HIV incidence may be reduced by 95% in 10 years and that this approach may be cost effective in the medium term. This offers a 'ray of hope' to those who have thus far only dreamed of curbing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in SSA, as until now the glaring truth has been pessimistic. When it comes to ART, approximately 7 of 10 people who clinically need ART still do not receive it. From an epidemic point of view, for every person placed on ART an estimated four to six others acquire HIV. The likelihood of achieving the targets of the Millennium Development Goals for 2015 and universal ART access by 2010 are thus extremely low. A new window of opportunity may have now opened, but there are many unanswered feasibility and acceptability issues. In this paper, we highlight four key operational challenges linked to acceptability and feasibility and discuss possible ways forward to address them.