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HIV Treatments Can Succeed in War Zones
8/15/2006 9:02 AM

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) launched pilot programs in several conflict and post conflict countries, including Sierra Leone, aimed at treating HIV and AIDS patients. The programs were launched in 2003 to test whether it was viable to treat refugees for HIV infection. 

According to UNHCR, refugees account for approximately 0.2% to 0.3% of the world's need for HIV treatment.  The numbers are unknown for internally displaced persons.  Refugees and internally displaced persons often do not receive treatment because doctors fear living conditions will cause them to interupt their treatment programes. Poverty, lack of education, lack of access to health care and the fact that refugees have to move frequently in order to remain safe make consistent treatment difficult.  HIV treatment that is interrupted can cause patients to develop resistance to the medications. 

The pilot programs found that dispite the challenges faced by refugees the pilot programs found comparable results to non-conflict populations treated for HIV.  MSF also found that by focusing on HIV there were improvements in primary care as well. 

Compiled from: Refugees need HIV treatments too: NGOs, Agence France-Presse (AFP), August 14, 2006.