amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

TREAT Asia: A Cooperative Approach to Combating HIV in Asia and the Pacific

A CONTINENT AT RISK

asia map articleThe Asia-Pacific region is home to over 60% of the world’s population and more HIV-positive people than any region outside sub-Saharan Africa. When TREAT Asia was founded by amfAR in 2001, little attention was being paid to the looming AIDS crisis in the region. Substantial progress has since been made to develop comprehensive local, national, and regional responses to combat HIV, and the number of new infections in the region has decreased by approximately 10% and AIDS-related deaths by nearly 40% since 2005.

However, many challenges to controlling the epidemic in the Asia-Pacific remain. Only one-third of HIV-positive people in the region currently have access to antiretroviral therapy (ART). In addition, HIV-positive pregnant women in South Asia have the world’s lowest rate of access to the antiretroviral medicines needed to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

5 million people in the Asia-Pacific region are living with HIV/AIDS.

While the region has seen an overall decline in new infections, in several countries—including China, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines—rates of new infections are increasing.

In Indonesia and Pakistan, AIDS-related deaths have quadrupled since 2005. Also, HIV rates among key populations—people who inject drugs (PWID), men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender individuals, and sex workers—are far higher than among the general population, and rising.

PROVIDING A COLLABORATIVE RESPONSE

25% of MSM in Bangkok are HIV positive, according to UNAIDS.

TREAT Asia (Therapeutics Research, Education, and AIDS Training in Asia) is a collaborative network of clinics, hospitals, and research institutions working with civil society to ensure the safe and effective delivery of HIV treatments to adults and children across the Asia-Pacific through research, education, and advocacy of evidence-based

HIV-related policies. TREAT Asia’s unique capacity to bring together researchers, doctors, activists, advocates, and policy makers plays an important role in the region’s response to HIV, and it has become a model for regional collaboration on HIV/AIDS.

RESEARCH

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Photo: Kevin Tachman

“By marrying research, education, and advocacy, TREAT Asia is improving HIV treatment at healthcare facilities throughout the region, improving national HIV protocols, and positively impacting many lives.”—Kenneth Cole, Chairman of the Board, amfAR

TREAT Asia and its network of researchers are working to understand optimal approaches to treating HIV and common co-infections in Asian settings—including hepatitis C, tuberculosis, and the human papillomavirus. The TREAT Asia network includes 21 adult and 18 pediatric clinical sites and orphan support programs in 12 countries. The sites contribute patient data to TREAT Asia’s adult and pediatric observational databases,TAHOD and TApHOD, which pool regional information to better understand epidemic trends and identify gaps in clinical evidence to inform national HIV treatment protocols. In 2006, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) selected TREAT Asia to lead the Asia-Pacific component of its global HIV database consortium, known as IeDEA. TREAT Asia is also conducting several pilot studies investigating how to better treat HIV and common co-infections in resource-limited settings.
 

EDUCATION

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Over 8,000 adult patients have been enrolled in the TREAT Asia HIV Observational Database (TAHOD).  

TREAT Asia regularly hosts workshops and develops and distributes educational materials to provide clinicians and community advocates with the knowledge they need to better address the epidemic within their own country contexts. These have included trainings to improve pediatric HIV treatment literacy among community advocates, peer educators, and healthcare providers; a workshop series on increasing awareness about hepatitis C and HIV among PWID; flip charts, booklets, and animated videos designed to inform both clinicians and patients about treating HIV and hepatitis C co-infection; and a video series on HIV-positive women’s reproductive rights.

ADVOCACY

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Photo: Adam’s Love, The Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre

“Compelling evidence shows that for Asia to turn the tide on AIDS, country strategies have to focus on people at higher risk of HIV infection – MSM, people who inject drugs, sex workers and their clients, and transgender people.” — Michel Sidibé, Executive Director, UNAIDS

TREAT Asia plays a key advocacy role in the region by using the data gathered through the network to make the case for evidence-based HIV programming. TREAT Asia works closely with individual country-based and regional advocates and amfAR’s Washington, D.C.-based Public Policy Office to develop strategies for urging governments, HIV/AIDS organizations, donors, and pharmaceutical companies to invest in broader access to affordable, high-quality HIV and co-infection treatment, and for the removal of barriers that prevent many people from accessing care. Too often, these barriers include stigma and discrimination, and TREAT Asia advocates improving the human rights of all people living with HIV, including MSM and PWID, and supports national and regional programs working to empower them.

PEDIATRIC HIV PROGRAM  

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Photo: Kevin Tachman

Over 5,000 children and adolescents have been enrolled in the TREAT Asia Pediatric HIV Observational Database (TApHOD).  

TREAT Asia’s Pediatric HIV Program supports projects that focus on expanding access to treatment and improving the quality of care that children and adolescents receive. It is the only regional program that integrates research to optimize pediatric HIV care and treatment with trainings to improve the pediatric HIV knowledge of caregivers, community advocates, and healthcare providers. The program also seeks to support the medical needs of HIV-positive adolescents as they transition to adult care.

The pediatric program’s Social Support Awards help organizations train care providers on how to best address psychosocial challenges. Additionally, TREAT Asia is participating in the International AIDS Society’s (IAS) Collaborative Initiative for Paediatric HIV Education and Research (CIPHER), which aims to facilitate global collaboration to improve care for HIV-positive children and adolescents.
 

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