Image Caption – AHF’s Dr. Miguel Pedrola (left) and Minister of Health for Jujuy Province Dr. Gustavo Bouhid celebrate the adoption of Test and Treat.
In an unprecedented advocacy win for all those newly diagnosed with HIV in the Argentine province of Jujuy—anyone who is found to be HIV positive will now be able to access antiretroviral therapy (ART) within seven days, versus the previous waiting period of up to three months.
Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between AHF Argentina and the government of Jujuy on October 3, the province is now the first in Argentina to adopt the Test & Treat protocol.
“The test is performed with a drop of blood—in just fifteen minutes, you have the results,” said Dr. Miguel Pedrola, AHF’s Scientific Director for its Latin America and Caribbean Bureau. “Previously in Jujuy, the work to determine viral load [the amount of HIV in the blood] was done in other provinces, so patients were waiting months to start treatment—which is entirely too long.”
Since following strict adherence to ART treatment guidelines to achieve an undetectable viral load means the difference between a person being able to transmit HIV or not, getting HIV positive patients quickly linked and enrolled into care is of utmost importance.
“This is a big step towards the end of the AIDS epidemic throughout the province,” added Dr. Pedrola. “Now our focus must shift to the entire country to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, will have access to medicine within seven days of a test.”
AHF Argentina has worked with the Jujuy government for two years and specifically on Test and Treat for 10 months. Plans are also in the works for two more provinces to adopt the protocol, as well as collaboration at the national level.
“We are proud to have signed this MoU with the one of the most important HIV/AIDS NGOs in the world,” said Jujuy Minister of Health Dr. Gustavo Bouhid. “We now want to lead the Test and Treat program across the whole of Argentina.”
AHF has been working in Argentina since 2013 and currently provides HIV care and treatment to over 16,000 patients.