There was a time when a person who was diagnosed with HIV or Aids received a virtual death sentence, as there were no known treatments for the disease. However, in the late 1990s, a combination of drugs was discovered that kept the virus in check. These were called antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. Since 2004, when South Africa rolled out its ARV programme to people living with HIV, they have given affected people a new lease on life.
IT’S A TREATMENT, NOT A CURE
ARV treatments do not cure HIV/Aids. There is still no outright cure for the disease, and it does not go away by itself. But ARVs do slow down the damage that the virus does to the immune system, and allow people to live long, productive lives like everyone else, without succumbing to the disease. With one in every 10 people in South Africa living with HIV or Aids – that is, 6.19 million in 2015 – these drugs are tremendously valuable in giving an excellent quality of life.