Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Gender Violence Increases HIV Vulnerability

Gender Violence Increases HIV Vulnerability

by Swapna Majumdar
March 20, 2014

Is there a cure for HIV? The success stories of Timothy Brown and the two Boston patients, who rid themselves of the HIV cells through bone marrow transplants, led to hopes that a cure had finally been found. This was further boosted by the fact that the transplants received by them were diametrically different; Brown a transplant with cells that were resistant to HIV and the Boston patients with non-resistant cells. They remained virus-free for months after stopping treatment. However, in December last year, the virus recurred in both the Boston patients.

“While I am excited that research has progressed tremendously, the search for an HIV cure has still a long way to go. But the good thing is that it is possible,” said Professor Sharon Lewin, local co-chair of XX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014). Lewin is also the Director of Infectious Diseases at The Alfred Hospital and Monash University in Melbourne.

She said that the antiretroviral treatment (ART) was probably one of the greatest success stories in the last century. “It has had a huge impact on people’s lives. It has changed a universal death sentence to a lifelong chronic manageable disease. If they start treatment at the right time, life expectancy is normal for people living with HIV,” she said to Citizen News Service (CNS).

So does the success of ART mean the end of AIDS is possible? Lewin believes that AIDS-related illnesses may no longer be a threat for patients who continue with ART and have lifelong access to it. But a big challenge was ensuring treatment was universally accessible. “Treatment saves and prolongs life. A big advantage is that it reduces their infectiousness by 96 per cent. So more the people who are on treatment means greater the reduction of HIV transmission,” said Lewin.



But why was it that the rate of HIV prevalence among women had not declined despite the overall decline of the infection in Asia and the Pacific? “Women continue to be vulnerable for several reasons including low education and high amount of gender violence,” said Lewin. Stigma and discrimination was also one of the biggest barriers to testing and seeking treatment.

So, the challenge was reaching out to all the people, especially key populations contended Lewis. Testing was as important as ensuring drugs were available. “In Australia, we saw no decline because we didn’t test enough. We have to destigmatise testing. It should be as easy as testing blood pressure,” she said.

For Asia, the unique challenge is the diversity of the epidemic. According to Lewin, while in some countries, it was predominantly in injecting drug users, in others it was in men who had sex with men (MSM) or commercial sex workers. More often than not, these groups were marginalised and didn’t have access to good healthcare services, she said.

Hopefully, the International AIDS conference to be held in Melbourne in July this year will find responses to these challenges.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Resignation Of Metiria Turei: Were Journalists 'just Doing Their Job'?

In our research we examined the role of journalism in animating the Turei controversy and the different perceptions of professional journalists and online commentators sympathetic to Turei’s left politics. ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Extradition Of Julian Assange

It isn’t necessary to like Julian Assange to think that his extradition to the US (on the charge of aiding and abetting Chelsea Manning) would be a major injustice... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: Islamic State Meets The Searchers

The histories of the European children forcibly recruited into Native American tribal life during the 19th century do remind us of just how difficult the social re-integration of the children of ISIS is likely to be. More>>

Joseph Cederwall: CJR Analysis Of Post-Christchurch Media Coverage

After the Christchurch massacre, Columbia Journalism Review analysed news sources to see how outlets complied with guidelines from groups that seek to limit the amplification of terrorist acts through media. More>>

News Deserts: The Death March Of Local Journalism

Joseph Cederwall: The corporate media sector seems unable to do anything to halt the raging dumpster fire of consolidation, layoffs and centralisation of content production. All this means we are increasingly seeing ‘news deserts’ appearing in local communities. Illustration by Paul Sahre. More>>

ALSO: