A radical re-think is underway in the area of HIV, its prevention and its treatment.
While we are seeing what feels like an ever increasing reduction in support for LGBT across the world, and something of a religious backlash underway in so-called civilised societies, we are also seeing breakthroughs in treatments and therapies for HIV, provided the people who need it are given access to the treatments.
A consortium of groups including the European Aids Treatment Group (EATG), Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) and the National Aids Manual (NAMS) issued a joint statement on 27/12/2014 to encourage, almost demand the basic human rights of individuals to choose their treatment – especially in terms of preventative treatments.
Their statement calls for the choice to start treatment belonging to the individual concerned, and not the state, doctor or charity. This is so that treatment is seen as a benefit to the individual, and not to aid anyone else or further their agenda. HIV treatment has been proven to increase life expectancy and should be available to anyone who wants or needs it, without social stigma or fear of legal reprisals.
The above is true in certain regimes – Greece in 2012 introduced mandatory testing for some women, in 2013 it was re-introduced and gave the police the right to stop anyone they suspect of being HIV+ and forcibly testing them. Botswana is another country currently considering mandatory testing. Add these to the recent legislative changes in Russia and these measures can only serve to drive HIV underground and prevent those who need treatment from obtaining it.
Repressive regimes have shown time and time again that their stance against LGBT is linked to HIV, and as a result the most vulnerable in their societies are denied basic healthcare and endanger the global fight against HIV and its spread. Some of the worst regimes (Russia/Ukraine) have some of the lowest proportion of people on treatment, but the highest mortality rates.
Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) has been shown to decrease the chances of passing the disease by 96%, as one of the biggest issues facing someone HIV+ is the risk of passing the disease to someone else. ART has been proven to effectively render the patient non-infectious. This doesn’t negate the need for standard prevention (condoms, etc) but goes a long way towards that day.
The recent statement release by this consortium is simply that – a statement that shows the common sense approach on offer there – but one that is constantly under threat from narrow minded legislation that will, inevitably, do more damage than good.
As the statement says, ART itself will not end the epidemic, but it is an essential component. I am no expert in this field, and more than willing to listen to anyone who is – I grew up alongside this disease, have lost friends and lovers to it and the prospect of it getting hold of newer generations when we have, within our grasp, the tools to help eradicate it, is nonsensical and abhorrent.
Go over to the site and add your voice. If you have questions, ask them, get this topic back on the agenda and up for discussion, alongside the erosion of LGBT rights worldwide. But don’t forget, HIV is a virus that hits people, not sexualities!
You can see and sign the statement at:
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