April 12, 2013
The Public Health Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), in partnership with the Pacific Islands HIV and STI Response Fund, has negotiated access to antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for Pacific Islanders beginning July 2013.The Response Fund will finance the ARVs with the support of the Australian and New Zealand Aid Programmes and an SPC contribution of US $100,000. According to Dr. Dennie Iniakwala, HIV and STI team leader at SPC, the agreement gives people living with HIV peace of mind as the organization continues working on programs on HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). He noted that the agreement allows the organization time to find a longer term and sustained supply of these drugs.
It is necessary for people with HIV infection who are on treatment to adhere to the treatment program, as ARVs block the multiplication of HIV and halt progression of the disease. For this reason, it is very important that people living with HIV have access to ARVs and that all who are eligible for treatment receive it. Since 2004, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria has spent more than US $330,000 on ARVs for Pacific people with HIV infection, using a grant managed by SPC that will end in June 2013.
Last month, regional consultations were held with Pacific HIV/STI and reproductive health managers in Fiji and Guam as part of the effort to develop the next five-year regional plans for HIV and other STIs in the Pacific. UNAIDS estimated that in 2012, the Pacific region had approximately 60,000 people living with HIV, including in Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.