Maximizing the benefits of antiretroviral therapy for key affected populations

Ian R. Grubb, Sarah W. Beckham, Michel Kazatchkine, Ruth M. Thomas, Eliot R. Albers, Mauro Cabral, Joep Lange, Stefano Vella, Manoj Kurian, Chris Beyrer

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

Abstract

Introduction: Scientific research has demonstrated the clinical benefits of earlier initiation of antiretroviral treatment (ART), and that ART can markedly reduce HIV transmission to sexual partners. Ensuring universal access to ART for those who need it has long been a core principle of the HIV response, and extending the benefits of ART to key populations is critical to increasing the impact of ART and the overall effectiveness of the HIV response. However, this can only be achieved through coordinated efforts to address political, social, legal and economic barriers that key populations face in accessing HIV services. Discussion: Recent analyses show that HIV prevalence levels among key populations are far higher than among the general population, and they experience a range of biological and behavioural factors, and social, legal and economic barriers that increase their vulnerability to HIV and have resulted in alarmingly low ART coverage. World Health Organization 2014 consolidated guidance on HIV among key populations offers the potential for increased access to ART by key populations, following the same principles as for the general adult population. However, it should not be assumed that key populations will achieve greater access to ART unless stigma, discrimination and punitive laws, policies and practices that limit access to ART and other HIV interventions in many countries are addressed. Conclusions: Rights-based approaches and investments in critical enablers, such as supportive legal and policy environments, are essential to enable wider access to ART and other HIV interventions for key populations. The primary objective of ART should always be to treat the person living with HIV; prevention is an important, additional benefit. ART should be provided only with informed consent. The preventive benefits of treatment must not be used as a pretext for failure to provide other necessary HIV programming for key populations, including comprehensive harm reduction and other prevention interventions tailored to meet the needs of key populations. An end to AIDS is only possible if we overcome the barriers of criminalization, stigma and discrimination that remain key drivers of the HIV epidemics among key populations. Copyright:

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number19320
JournalJournal of the International AIDS Society
Volume17
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 18 2014

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Keywords

  • HIV/AIDS
  • Human rights
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

Cite this

Grubb, I. R., Beckham, S. W., Kazatchkine, M., Thomas, R. M., Albers, E. R., Cabral, M., Lange, J., Vella, S., Kurian, M., & Beyrer, C. (2014). Maximizing the benefits of antiretroviral therapy for key affected populations. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 17, [19320]. https://doi.org/10.7448/IAS.17.1.19320