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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.
Embedded thumbnail for Reaching young people with Khetha, a digital HIV counselling platform
06/12/2019

Reaching young people with Khetha, a digital HIV counselling platform

Young people in South Africa have the fastest growing rates of HIV infection, with 39% of all new HIV infections occurring between ages 15 to 24 years. Yet young people have very low rates of HIV testing, and face challenges in accessing health services.
Lita arriving at Nsanje District Hospital. [Photo: Isabel Corthier/MSF]
02/12/2019

Gerrald and Lita

Lita and her father Gerrald live in Suwali, Nsanje.

Malawi - Advanced HIV[Photo: Isabel Corthier/MSF]
02/12/2019

Empowering patients to reach an HIV-free Malawi

Despite having taken huge steps to reduce the prevalence of HIV and the numbers of people dying from it, many people in Malawi still get sick and develop advanced HIV. But a new model of care could help communities spot the symptoms of HIV and speed up the referral process, so that HIV positive patients receive care quickly and effectively.

Manfred being helped to go to the Ndamera Health Centre while some of his friends are seeing him off. [Photo: Isabel Corthier/MSF]
02/12/2019

Manfred Luka

“I come from Chitomeni Village and I am a fisherman. During one of my usual fishing errands, I was having trouble breathing. I had chest pain. When I realised that my health was deteriorating, I went to Ndamera Health Centre.

Kingsley Makwale MSF clinician examining Aisha at Mbenje Health Centre [Photo: Isabel Corthier/MSF]
02/12/2019

“No time to lose”: AIDS deaths toll stagnating due to lack of basic testing at community level

A 15-country snapshot report on progress in the fight against advanced HIV

Portrait of John * and Jean * in the CHK. Jean was diagnosed with HIV in 2010.[Photo: Pablo Garrigos/MSF]
30/11/2019

In Kinshasa, HIV-positive people wait until ‘death’s door before coming to receive treatment’

Francois Sennesael*

A few weeks ago, the countries of the world gathered in Lyons to announce their contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. At the event, almost $14 billion were pledged to support the fight against these diseases over the next three years. While this is a respectable sum, it is far from enough to meet the growing needs faced by the worst-affected countries. An illustration of this is in the Congolese capital Kinshasa, at one of the few facilities to treat patients with advanced HIV/AIDS.

Grâce M’Gazio is a young mother about to give birth. She is doing the HIV – AIDS test with Adeline Ouaboua, psychosocial advisor at the Castors maternity, Central African Republic [© Elisa Fourt/MSF]
07/10/2019

The fight against HIV and TB is at a critical juncture

After a decade of strong commitments to fight HIV and TB, we are witnessing a decline in donor and domestic funding

YANGON, MYANMAR – Patients receive medicine after a counselling session at MSF's Insein clinic. Some of these patients are on their last visit to this clinic as they will soon be transferred to Myanmar’s National AIDS Programme for continued treatment. [
09/07/2019

Closure of MSF’s Insein clinic marks milestone for people living with HIV in Myanmar

The closure of the Insein clinic represents a milestone both for MSF and for Myanmar, marking the country’s growing capacity to provide antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for people living with HIV.

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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.