In 2013 there were 35 million people living with HIV, 12.9 million people globally were receiving antiretroviral therapy and less than 1 in 4 children living with HIV had access to ART, compared to 1 in 3 adults. World AIDS Day 2014 is an opportunity to harness the power of social change to put people first and close the access gap. Ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is possible, but only by closing the gap between people who have access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and people who are being left behind. Closing the gap means empowering and enabling all people, everywhere, to access the services they need. By closing the HIV testing gap, the 19 million people who are unaware of their HIV-positive status can begin to get support. By closing the treatment gap, all 35 million people living with HIV will have access to life-saving medicine. By closing the gap in access to medicines for children, all children living with HIV will be able to access treatment, not just the 24% who have access today. By closing the access gap, all people can be included as part of the solution. Closing the gap means that ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is possible.
So this begs the question – what are we doing to close the gap? Our role is perhaps more in optimising functioning in people living with HIV and AIDS. Physiotherapists take a primary role in relation to the management of all diseases that are associated with low levels of physical activity, including HIV and AIDS. Exercise is used as a strategy to diminish the health-related consequences of HIV and associated treatments. As experts in movement and exercise and with a thorough knowledge of pathology and its effects on all systems, physiotherapists are the ideal professionals to promote, guide, prescribe and manage exercise activities that enable people living with the disease to maintain or improve their level of physical activity.
Check out these two cochrane reviews:
- Aerobic exercise for adults living with HIV/AIDS
- Progressive resistive exercise interventions for adults living with HIV/AIDS
Do you work with people living with HIV/AIDs? Let us know about your work and our role. How can we contribute to closing the gap?