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

 

Veronika Meduna on The Dig: Kaitiakitanga - Seeing Nature As Your Elder

The intricate interconnections between climate change and biodiversity loss, and how this disruption impacts Māori in particular. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On China And Hong Kong (And Boris)

In the circumstances, yesterday’s move by Lam to scrap – rather than merely suspend – the hated extradition law that first triggered the protests three months ago, seems like the least she can do. It may also be too little, too late. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Ensuring Boris Gets Blamed For Brexit

Everyone needs to step back and let Johnson have his ‘no deal’ Brexit, since that’s the only way of making sure that the current Tory leadership gets to wear the consequent turmoil. More>>

ALSO:

Dave Hansford on The Dig: Whose Biodiversity Is It Anyway?

The DOC-led draft Biodiversity Strategy seeks a “shared vision.” But there are more values and views around wildlife than there are species. How can we hope to agree on the shape of Aotearoa’s future biota? More>>

ALSO:

There Is A Field: Reimagining Biodiversity In Aotearoa

We are in a moment of existential peril, with interconnected climate and biodiversity crises converging on a global scale to drive most life on Earth to the brink of extinction… These massive challenges can, however, be reframed as a once in a lifetime opportunity to fundamentally change how humanity relates to nature and to each other. Read on The Dig>>

ALSO: