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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.
22/07/2021

Breakthrough in treatment of HIV-related cryptococcal meningitis gives Gilead another opportunity to fulfil its promise to scale up access to lifesaving drug

Access to affordable liposomal amphotericin B (L-AmB) crucial to ending cryptococcal meningitis deaths by 2030

07/06/2021

MSF statement concerning intellectual property and access to medicines in the 2021 UN High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS Declaration

2 June 2021 - As negotiations continue on the declaration for the upcoming UN High-Level Meeting (HLM) on HIV/AIDS, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urges all member states to recognise and retain the full rights and use of internationally agreed public health safeguards enshrined in the Agreement on Trade-related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) for access to affordable generic antiretroviral (ARV) drugs and other medicines for HIV.

07/06/2021

UN HIV declaration must throw a lifeline to people with Advanced HIV Disease

Can we do what needs to be done to stop people dying from HIV/AIDS? Maybe – but only if we pay more attention to the people who are most at risk of dying. World leaders will discuss the next steps in the fight against the disease at the UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS on the 8-10th of June 2021. The political declaration they’re expected to adopt, must contain clear and tangible commitments to tackle HIV related mortality and a specific focus on early detection and treatment of the main killer diseases linked to Advanced HIV Disease (AHD or AIDS).

Catherine Atieno holds up her medication (2011) © Sven Torfinn
24/03/2021

Kenya: Impending stockout of HIV medicines in Homa Bay puts many lives at risk

For the more than 114,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV) currently on treatment in Homa Bay County, impending stockouts risk forcing many to interrupt their treatment, wiping away recent gains in suppressing the deadly infection.

16/12/2020

Five people, five reasons we need to overcome monopolies on medicines

Five people, five reasons why we need governments to back this key waiver on patents and monopolies for COVID-19 medical tools during the pandemic.

Ntezimana Fidès [© MSF/Alawiya Mohammed]
26/11/2020

“My journey as a refugee has helped me find my purpose in life”

Ntezimana Fidès, from Burundi, works for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Nduta refugee camp, northwestern Tanzania, where she provides support to pregnant women with HIV, who often face stigma, even from their own husbands. She outlines how her work has changed with COVID-19 and describes the joy of being able to help her community. 

MSF staff walking in the field heading for a call-back during the NHIPS survey.
23/11/2020

The journey to reversing the curve: HIV prevalence in Ndhiwa Sub-county drops seven per cent in six years

 Following the results of a 2012 study in Ndhiwa Sub-County in Kenya,  a massive, collective effort was launched by MSF with the Kenyan Ministry of Health, along similar initiatives by EGPAF and PEPFAR partners, to drive an improvement in the HIV cascade of care, in order to reduce the number of people capable of transmitting the virus, thereby aiming to reduce the incidence.

MSF Doctors attending to a patient at the Homa Bay hospital
23/11/2020

Improved testing and provision of care slashes HIV rates in Ndhiwa sub-county, Kenya

Between 2014 and 2018, improved access to testing and treatment, and a higher quality of care significantly reduced the percentage of the population living with HIV in Ndhiwa sub-county, Homa Bay county, Kenya, according to a study by medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Epicentre.

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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.