Banjul, Gambia (PANA) - A new study has raised hopes in Gambia that patients who start anti-retroviral therapy (ART) early respond better to treatment and are less likely to develop AIDS-related illnesses.
The study also revealed that there are 94 percent chances of patients who started taking ART early not transmitting the virus.
“This is indeed very good news and a development with renewed hope,” the Director of National AIDS Secretarial (NAS) in Banjul, the Gambia, Mr. Alieu Jammeh, said Friday at the 28th International Candlelight Memorial, observed globally to remember those who die due to HIV/AIDS-related illnesses.
Speaking at the event, organised by the Gambia Network of AIDS Support Societies (GAMNASS), under the theme: “Touching Lives”, Jammeh said: “If this recent study is anything to go by, the Gambia and some parts of the world will soon become HIV/AIDS free."
He noted that community-based organisations worldwide used the day to remember those who lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses; support those living with HIV and affected by its impact; and spur calls to action for greater awareness.
“I am convinced that with this development, it will thus inform NAS, which will continue to work with partners to review the National HIV Policy and Guidelines so that we are in line with the international community,” he emphasised
According to him, the many lives this initiative will save cannot be compared to any cost we may foresee and hence, NAS would like to renew its resolve and commitment to urge all development partners to support them, in order to improve the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In 2000, United Nations member states committed to achieving universal access to treatment, prevention, care and support by 2010. Though this has not been achieved, Jammeh said HIV treatment was working to slow down the epidemic.
The global target was reviewed and extended to 2015 and he said the secretariat was aware of the progress registered so far towards achieving universal access to HIV prevention, care and support by 2015.
Jammeh asserted: “we know some of the shortfalls and since we are about to review our national policy, we will continue to work with all of you on the proposed new strategies to make it responsive to our needs.
"I have the belief that this new research finding will help to improve the lives of people living with HIV and hopefully, will lead to a successful high level meeting.”
-0- PANA MSS/BOS 20May2011