Too many PLHIV lack basic HIV treatment knowledge

22 October 2014
An HIV ribbon

In countries hit hardest by the HIV epidemic, people are poorly informed about their HIV treatment concludes The International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) in their recently published report; “Global Policy, Local Disconnection. A look into the implementation of the 2013 HIV treatment guidelines”.

The ITPC conducted a study involving 760 people living with HIV and 130 medical service providers in 16 countries in Africa, Asia and Western Europe. The study revealed that only 16.9 percent of participants indicated that they have heard about the recommended guidelines for the initiation of antiretroviral treatment (ART). This implies that many people living with HIV (PLHIV) are still not receiving the treatment education they need. This has serious implications for translating global and national treatment guidelines on to the ground, impacting heavily on global and national HIV targets.

Despite the release of the ambitious 2013 World Health Organisation (WHO) treatment guidelines, people living with HIV still lack access to basic knowledge regarding HIV treatment. The intended aim of the 2013 treatment guidelines - to promote earlier treatment - will therefore be very difficult to reach if people do not have basic treatment literacy. Many people will only take treatment to safe their lives, and remain unaware that it helps reduce the transmission of HIV to their sexual partners. To solve this problem, a change in how governments and healthcare facilities provide treatment care is necessary. Treatment education must be implemented at the community level with PLHIV participating in the design, delivery and monitoring of HIV services.

Accurate information regarding HIV treatment is crucial. PLHIV need to know more about the medicines they are taking and the impact this has for both their health and the transmission of HIV. This will enable a more effective scale-up of treatment that will not only save people’s lives but also tackle HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

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