We are a group of international, regional and national organizations advocating for access to HIV treatment from a human rights perspective. Find out who we are.
Why a campaign on viral load testing?
The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly recommends that all people living with HIV have a viral load test six months after treatment, and at least once a year thereafter. Sadly, viral load tests are not routinely available to the vast majority of people living with HIV throughout Africa. The Be Healthy – Know your viral load campaign is trying to change that.
What do we want to do?
Be Healthy – Know your viral load aims to:
- inform people living with HIV about the value of viral load tests;
- mobilize people to demand routine viral load testing;
- urge governments to make sure the tests are routinely available, accessible and affordable.
How big is the problem?
Although many governments have adopted the 2013 WHO Guidelines to routinely provide viral load tests, we think the reality for people with HIV, in many African countries, is quite different. We conducted two surveys which suggest that people living with HIV do not have access to these tests.
- In 2014, we conducted a global survey involving 760 people living with HIV in 16 countries to find out how well the World Health Organization’s HIV Treatment Guidelines were being implemented. Our report, ‘Global Policy, Local Disconnect: A Look into the Implementation of the 2013 HIV Treatment Guidelines’, exposed challenges around access to routine viral load tests.
- In May 2015, we coordinated a review of access to routine viral load testing across 11 African countries. The findings of the rapid assessment summarized in the issue brief “Routine For You But Not For Me” (PDF) suggest limited availability of routine viral load testing. It also showed low levels of awareness of the value of routine viral load tests amongst people living with HIV and service providers.
“In Zambia, I visited an ART center in a rural area where I met 38 patients and 2 clinical officers. All the patients there that day had no idea what viral load testing was. The doctors explained that viral load testing had never really taken place since the clinic was opened in 2010 – they never received a viral load test result even if when they ordered it and the blood samples were collected. It is sad.”
Owen Mulenga – Treatment Advocacy and Literacy Campaign (TALC), Zambia
On this website you can see statistics about the availability of viral load tests in eleven African countries.
Who’s behind the campaign?
Be Healthy – Know your viral load is co-ordinated by:
- International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC)
- AIDS Rights Alliance in Southern Africa (ARASA)
Both these organisations work with treatment advocates and networks of people living with HIV to demand their rights to good quality HIV treatment. Find out more about the organizations behind the campaign.
We are working with eleven partners across Africa. You can see the name and contact details of each of our partners on the country pages: Botswana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.