By Mutaleni Nadimi, AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA)
“I was advised to go for a viral load test,” explains London Chuma, from Kafue, Zambia. “They said there were more than 1,000 copies of the virus in my blood. After that they changed my medicine. If I didn’t have the viral load test, I am sure I wouldn’t be here today.”
A viral load test measures the amount of the HIV virus in the body and it is considered one of the most effective ways in which a patient can be sure of the success of their HIV treatment. Although many countries in Sub- Saharan Africa have adopted the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines that HIV patients on treatment receive one viral load test each year, viral load tests are not widely available in the region. As Christine Stegling, Executive Director of ITPC said, “The right to health includes the right to know if your treatment is working”.
To drive this effort forward, a new patient rights campaign called, ‘Be healthy – Know your viral load’ was recently launched in Lusaka, Zambia. ‘Be Healthy-know your viral load’ calls on African governments to make viral load tests routinely available to all African citizens living with HIV. At the campaign launch, the 300-strong crowd was ceremoniously flagged off by the Mayor of the City of Lusaka, His Worship George Nyendwa then marched in song on Lusaka’s Independence Avenue towards the Lusaka Civic Centre grounds. It was a day to remember.
Learn more about the ‘Be healthy-Know your viral load’ campaign here and take action in your country!
Spread the word and tweet this:
We need to make routine viral load testing available to all people living with #HIV! http://bit.ly/1kbhyaz #AIDS2016 #Knowyourviralload