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HIV/AIDS

The virus has killed more than 25 million people since 1981. MSF pioneered treatment in Africa, and were the first organisation to introduce antiretroviral drugs in a public health facility in Kenya, and have since treated millions of people around the world for the disease.  
 
HIV gradually weakens the body’s immune system, usually over a period of up to 10 years after infection. The virus was discovered in 1981. 
 
A person living with HIV is considered to have developed AIDS when their immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off certain opportunistic infections and diseases, such as pneumonia, meningitis and some cancers. 
 
One of the most common opportunistic infections among people living with HIV/AIDS is tuberculosis (TB). 
 
According to the World Health Organisation, there are more than 34 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, the majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa. 
 
One tenth of HIV/AIDS sufferers are children (3.4 million people) under the age of 15, with over 1,000 becoming infected every day. 
 
Without treatment, half of all infants with HIV will die before their second birthday. 
 
Diagnosing HIV/AIDS 

 
Despite the availability of affordable rapid tests for HIV, knowledge of HIV status remains low in sub-Saharan Africa where HIV prevalence is highest. 
 
An estimated 60 percent of people living with HIV are unaware of their status and in some settings this figure is far lower; a study in Kenya in 2009 for example found that only 16 percent of HIV-infected adults knew that they were infected. 
 
Treating HIV/AIDS 
 
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, although treatments are much more successful than they used to be. A combination of drugs, known as anti-retrovirals (ARVs), help combat the virus and enable people to live longer, healthier lives without their immune system rapidly declining. 
 
MSF HIV/AIDS programmes offer HIV testing with pre- and post-test counseling, treatment and prevention of opportunistic infections, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and provision of ARVs for people in the late stages of the disease. 
 
Our programmes also generally include support to prevention, education and awareness activities to help people understand how to prevent the spread of the virus. 

 By the end of 2017, MSF had place 201,300 people on first line treatment, and 15,400 on second line treatment.
15/12/2022

How care and counselling helped Abdo take control of his HIV

People with HIV who stick strictly to their medication regime can live long and healthy lives. But without the medication, their immune systems weaken and they are unable to fight off infections.

Embedded thumbnail for HIV/AIDS: 20 years of free care by MSF in DRC
01/12/2022

HIV/AIDS: 20 years of free care by MSF in DRC

20 years ago, MSF teams in the DRC opened the first treatment centre offering free care to people living with HIV in Kinshasa.
01/12/2022

HIV/AIDS in the DRC: Behind the progress, huge challenges remain

20 years ago, MSF teams in the DRC opened the first treatment centre offering free care to people living with HIV in Kinshasa. Since then, great progress has been achieved in the country. But major gaps remain, causing thousands of preventable deaths.

30/09/2022

You yourself can make a difference

It was fairly easy for me to become a doctor, as well as getting medical access, but growing up, I knew that that was not the ideal world for everyone. So, I thought of contributing in making it a more equal world thus the humanitarian thought of working in places where people do not have it easier.

07/09/2022

Countries must re-engage on HIV, TB and malaria or risk seeing everything undone

HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria - If donor countries are to help beat these deadly pandemics, they will need to demonstrate their commitment with increased pledges at the upcoming Global Fund replenishment round.

16/06/2022

DRC: Enhancing medical care of vulnerable people in Goma through tailored psychosocial support

MSF team has been providing psychosocial support in seven health facilities in Goma to complement patients’ medical care and provide them with holistic support.

14/06/2022

Stigmatised groups are taking ownership of their health in Beira, Mozambique

MSF has implemented a peer-led strategy with the goal of creating a trusting environment where all people feel comfortable accessing healthcare. 

01/12/2021

25 years of providing HIV/AIDS care in Homa Bay, Kenya

We look back at highlights from a quarter-century of medical action in Homa Bay.

Pages

HIV/AIDS

The virus has killed more than 25 million people since 1981. MSF pioneered treatment in Africa, and were the first organisation to introduce antiretroviral drugs in a public health facility in Kenya, and have since treated millions of people around the world for the disease.  
 
HIV gradually weakens the body’s immune system, usually over a period of up to 10 years after infection. The virus was discovered in 1981. 
 
A person living with HIV is considered to have developed AIDS when their immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off certain opportunistic infections and diseases, such as pneumonia, meningitis and some cancers. 
 
One of the most common opportunistic infections among people living with HIV/AIDS is tuberculosis (TB). 
 
According to the World Health Organisation, there are more than 34 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, the majority of them in sub-Saharan Africa. 
 
One tenth of HIV/AIDS sufferers are children (3.4 million people) under the age of 15, with over 1,000 becoming infected every day. 
 
Without treatment, half of all infants with HIV will die before their second birthday. 
 
Diagnosing HIV/AIDS 

 
Despite the availability of affordable rapid tests for HIV, knowledge of HIV status remains low in sub-Saharan Africa where HIV prevalence is highest. 
 
An estimated 60 percent of people living with HIV are unaware of their status and in some settings this figure is far lower; a study in Kenya in 2009 for example found that only 16 percent of HIV-infected adults knew that they were infected. 
 
Treating HIV/AIDS 
 
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, although treatments are much more successful than they used to be. A combination of drugs, known as anti-retrovirals (ARVs), help combat the virus and enable people to live longer, healthier lives without their immune system rapidly declining. 
 
MSF HIV/AIDS programmes offer HIV testing with pre- and post-test counseling, treatment and prevention of opportunistic infections, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and provision of ARVs for people in the late stages of the disease. 
 
Our programmes also generally include support to prevention, education and awareness activities to help people understand how to prevent the spread of the virus. 

 By the end of 2017, MSF had place 201,300 people on first line treatment, and 15,400 on second line treatment.