News / Africa

HIV/AIDS Epidemic Still Ravaging African Countries

Pharmacists automatically dispense medicines loaded with anti-retrovirals at the U.S.-sponsored HIV/AIDS clinic at the Helen Joseph hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 15, 2012.Pharmacists automatically dispense medicines loaded with anti-retrovirals at the U.S.-sponsored HIV/AIDS clinic at the Helen Joseph hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 15, 2012.
x
Pharmacists automatically dispense medicines loaded with anti-retrovirals at the U.S.-sponsored HIV/AIDS clinic at the Helen Joseph hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 15, 2012.
Pharmacists automatically dispense medicines loaded with anti-retrovirals at the U.S.-sponsored HIV/AIDS clinic at the Helen Joseph hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 15, 2012.

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
Major progress has been made in Africa’s fight against HIV/AIDS but one of the major problems remaining is giving the thousands living with AIDS the drug therapies that can let them live a long life.

“In terms of the reality, unfortunately the reality is that while there’s been huge progress made in the fight against AIDS, there still remains a huge amount of more to do,” said Dr. Amir Shroufi, deputy medical coordinator for MSF in South Africa. 

The international medical aid group Doctors Without Borders, also known by the acronym, MSF, recently launched a series of films entitled “See What We See” on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. 

The films highlight the reality that the fight against HIV/AIDS is not over -- despite important achievements.  The film series features first-hand accounts of patients and doctors in South Africa, Lesotho, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Asian country, Myanmar. The reports describe problems treating HIV in the field, while highlighting innovative tools and strategies that work in combating the disease. 

“Every minute, a young woman is infected with HIV,” said Dr. Shroufi, “and AIDS remains the biggest burden of disease here in South Africa and in many other African countries. And we know that worldwide, it’s thought to be the biggest burden of disease among women in the ages of 25 to 44.” He takes those numbers from a World Health Organization report.

Shroufi emphasized the huge numbers of people still in need of treatment who don’t have access to Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). , Some countries who have done well in improving access to treatment but others have done poorly in giving access to the drug therapy.

In South Africa, for example, there has been a huge scale-up in the past two years, reaching approximately 2.4 million people.

“It’s been a huge achievement.  It’s not without gaps,” Shroufi said. One of the weaknesses in South Africa is the supply chain. “In a lot of places around the country, there have been stock-outs of essential medicine,” he said. “But it’s a country that’s shown a lot of commitment to the fight against HIV.”

Congo not making HIV drug therapies available

The Democratic Republic of Congo is highlighted in the film series as one country that is not doing well in providing needed ARTs.

“It was estimated in a paper in ‘Science’ in 2012, that only about 12 percent of people in need of Anti-Retroviral Therapy actually have access to it. The job of getting the medicine to people who need it really has not been done in some places,” the MSF doctor explained.

In most countries around the world, new HIV infections are going down.  However, in other countries new infections are rising, such as in Lesotho. 

“Lesotho has one of the highest adult prevalence’s anywhere in the world, and we think the new infections in the country, unfortunately, are rising,” said Shroufi.    

Shroufi said MSF thinks there are a number of community models that can help provide access more effectively than the traditional city hospital.

“For those people to do well, models such as community art groups,… clubs where people living with HIV become experts in the condition (and) work with each other” are a more convenient model. He said community groups help to collect medicine for each other, reducing the amount of time spent going to clinics. Such community models are being adopted increasingly in many countries because they are effective.

“Those kinds of models, we think, are very, very important,” said Shroufi.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid