HIV/AIDS Treatments Secured By Pacific Secretariat

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Community Suva, Fiji

Monday, April 08, 2013

The Public Health Division of SPC, in partnership with the Pacific Islands HIV and STI Response Fund has secured continuity of access to antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for Pacific Islanders, beginning in July 2013. The new agreement ensures that Pacific Islanders living with HIV have uninterrupted access to life-saving drugs, despite recent global and regional cuts in funding for HIV and AIDS.

The cost of the ARVs will be borne by the Response Fund, supported by the Australian and New Zealand Aid Programs, together with a USD 100,000 contribution from SPC.

‘This agreement gives people living with HIV peace of mind, as we pursue the continuation of programming on HIV and other STIs in the Pacific’, said Dr. Dennie Iniakwala, HIV and STI Team Leader at SPC.

ARVs stop the multiplication of HIV and the progression of the disease, prolonging life. But to be effective, People Living with HIV (PLHIV) must adhere to treatment. It is therefore essential that PLHIV currently receiving treatment are able to maintain access to ARV drugs, and that any PLHIV eligible for antiretroviral therapy receive it.

‘SPC has negotiated ongoing access to ARVs by PLHIV for 18 months from July 2013. This provides a window of opportunity to secure longer term and sustained supply of these essential drugs,’ said Dr. Iniakwala.

Since 2004, over USD 330,000 has been spent on ARVs for Pacific people living with HIV by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a grant managed by SPC that is due to close in June 2013.

Regional consultations were held with Pacific HIV/ STI and reproductive health managers in Fiji and Guam late last month, as part of the effort to develop the next five year regional strategy for HIV and other STIs in the Pacific.

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS estimates that in 2012 there were up to 60,000 people living with HIV in the Pacific region, including in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

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