The battle against the HIV/Aids epidemic hinges on high-quality treatment. The long-term study ‘TENART’ published in October 2017 shows that the comprehensive care model used at Newlands Clinic is very successful. After ten years, 78% of long-term patients remain in care, and the mortality rate is just 4%. Furthermore, 90% of the patients in care for ten years have a fully suppressed viral load. This means they are no longer contagious, and that women cannot pass the HIV virus on to their child during birth or while breastfeeding.
The fight against resistance is decisive
According to the report, the comprehensive care and support of patients is decisive in determining the success of HIV/Aids treatment. The reason for this is that if patients do not take their medication regularly, the virus can mutate after just a short period of time, thus giving rise to resistant viruses. This leads to treatment failure, requiring a switch to drug combinations that are very expensive and in some cases simply unavailable in resource-limited countries.
Ruedi Lüthy, founder of Newlands Clinic: “The only way to combat the HIV/Aids epidemic over the long term is through high-quality care resulting in correspondingly high adherence. In addition to medicines, what is needed is the provision of comprehensive information to the patients, coupled with closely coordinated medical and psychosocial care. Where required, we at Newlands Clinic offer supported self-help groups, workshops for young people, and psychological counselling.”
As regards the global battle against HIV/Aids, Ruedi Lüthy makes the case in particular for increased efforts to train doctors and nurses in the countries that are seriously affected, with a view to improving the quality of HIV treatment. In addition to prevention, this is the only way to achieve lasting success in fighting the epidemic. The Newlands Clinic Training Centre provides training and ongoing education courses to around 500 local doctors and nurses every year.
Authors: Tinei Shamu, Cleophas Chimbetete, Sandra Shawarira-Bote, Tinashe Mudzviti, Ruedi Lüthy
Outcomes of an HIV cohort after a decade of comprehensive care at Newlands Clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe: TENART cohort