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Treatment Access

South African HIV and AIDS activists

Since the turn of the century the international HIV and AIDS community have scaled up their commitment to universal access to HIV treatment. Compared to a decade ago, when less than half a million people living in low- and middle-income countries were receiving treatment, HIV treatment access has improved dramatically; today it is estimated that 9.7 million people, living in low- and middle-income countries with HIV, in need of treatment are receiving it. 1 This represents 65 percent of the 2011 target of getting 15 million people on treatment by 2015. 2

The benefits of early access to HIV treatment led the World Health Organisation, in 2013, to raise the point when a person starts HIV treatment from 350 cells/mm3 to 500 cells/mm3; increasing the number of people eligible for treatment in low- and middle- income countries to 25.9 million. 3

Treatment affordability

Antiretroviral drug cost is a large barrier to universal access. Various trade laws prevent the replication of drugs made by larger pharmaceutical companies, severely limiting the availability of effective treatment. However, some trade laws allow the creation of ‘generic’ drugs that can make HIV drugs far more accessible around the world. Other barriers to achieving universal access to treatment include a lack of trained staff, infrastructure and resources to ensure a reliable supply chain of antiretroviral drugs.

Some of the key strategies and targets that have moved the world closer to achieving universal access to HIV treatment are covered in drug prices; including information about why pharmaceutical companies charge high prices for antiretroviral drugs, ARV drug patents laws used by these companies as well as countries and individuals who have led a revolution against global barriers to HIV treatment.


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