ACCESS TO TREATMENT: Routine Viral Load Testing.

Posted by ARASA on July 15, 2016

ACCESS TO TREATMENT: Routine Viral Load Testing.

With an increasing number of people living with HIV being now being able to access antiretroviral (ART) therapy is a great stride forward, however celebrating successful treatment of HIV is far from over. Nearly half of the people in need of treatment has no access to Routine Viral Load (RVL) testing, a test that is able to tell if one’s treatment is working.

London Chuma, from Zambia, saw no improvement in his health after being diagnosed with HIV and being on antiretroviral (ARV).  He was advised to go for viral load testing. The use of RVL testing is the only safe way to know if the ART is working as it should. Even if one has a high CD4 count, it is still possible to have a high viral load. Through RVL testing one is now able to determine how many copies of the virus is found in one’s blood. Through having the test done, London’s meds were change and he testifies of improvement.

“I thought my future is completely shattered. But through viral load testing, it has been resurrected. Regardless of being HIV positive, I’m still retaining that title as bread-winner. ”, London explained.

Unfortunately, the success that RVL can offer is still not benefitting everyone. A study was done on twelve countries, from these twelve countries only eight had a government policy that mandates providers to conduct RVL testing as part of HIV treatment monitoring.

Despite the incorporation of RVL in government policies, it is not sufficient to drive the demand for viral load tests. Good government policies on treatment monitoring are simply not sufficient, action is needed to benefit those living with HIV.

Doreen Nasaala, a 21 year old Ugandan who was born with AIDS, shared her frustration with her struggle to have RVL testing done. She revealed that there are only four machines in Uganda and the tests are expensive.

Doreen describes that through the inability to access the viral load test makes her “feel oppressed”, she has voiced her demand for viral load testing.

Stand with Doreen and demand viral load tests for you and your community. Routine viral load testing is part of your right to health. 

For more information about vital load testing:

To watch London and Doreen’s story:

To join the campaign for RVL testing