AIDS in Africa: Viral load tests are finally available to African countries

© Shutterstock
© Shutterstock

A new program called “viral load test”, which aims to measure the effectiveness of antiviral treatment administered to HIV victims will be launched on the continent. The goal is not only to better treat African patients, but also is to contain the epidemic. The 25 countries most affected by AIDS are African, highlights UNAIDS. Tens of thousands of people in Ivory Coast, Burundi, Cameroon and Guinea are expected to benefit from this program. 8 million people in developing countries, mostly from Africa, are actually treated with antiviral therapy.

Access to the antiviral therapy is required, but the assessment of their effectiveness is even more important. The virus is constantly changing which requiring the best treatment possible, this is why we need to monitor the viral load.  By combining the test with the current treatment, we prevent disease to evolve but also we contribute to save the lives of many patients. Thus patients will have knowledge of their viral load, in fact when it’s below a certain threshold, patients are not contaminants which will slow the progression of the disease especially when we know that Africa is sorely lacking in awareness campaign concerning the unprotected sexual intercourse.

The viral load test was initiated long time ago in Western countries, but the high cost of this test was the reason that made this project not available in many African countries who could not afford this expense. This raises the issue of funding the fight against HIV in African countries. Although since the onset of the disease, the International Development Association (IDA), the arm of the World Bank that helps the poorest countries in the world, was the first source of funding for programs against the HIV / AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, other private funding sources have been engaged as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since the late 80s, more than two billion dollars have been engaged by IDA for to intensify efforts against HIV and AIDS, allowing millions of people to have better access to prevention, treatment and care.

It was only after the emergence of new viral load tests with lower costs, which enabled the introduction of these new devices in Africa. This project, which will also be accompanied to the early detection of HIV in infants is estimated at 2.8 million. It will be funded by the international organization « UNITED « , its funds come mainly from taxes levied on airline tickets.

Currently new therapies cost a more expensive, which leads us to ask the question that if one day a vaccine against HIV is created, how we will fund the vaccination program in countries with limited financial resources and help them from acquiring the new therapeutic innovations.