People Living with HIV advocate Christopher Lutukivuya says when he when he found out he was HIV positive, everything crashed inside and outside of him but his response to the news was just ‘oh, okay’ and he walked out the door with a fake smile on his face.
Lutukivuya says he received his results from the doctors in 2013 advising him that he was already in the AIDS zone.
He says as a person living positively with HIV, he wants to shed light on the importance of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for people living with HIV and the needed support towards it.
He says we need to recognise ART as a powerful tool for self-expression healing and self-empowerment.
The HIV advocate says ART has proven to be a game-changer in the management of HIV infection.
He says it has revolutionised the lives of people with HIV by reducing viral loads, improving immune functions, and preventing HIV-related complications.
Lutukivuya says studies conducted in Fiji and the Pacific region have confirmed the remarkable success of ART, particularly emphasising the positive impact of adherence and community-based support.
He says antiretroviral therapy can transcend and unite people from all walks of life.
The HIV advocate says this medication suppresses the virus allowing individuals like him to maintain healthy immune systems and reduce the risk of opportunistic infections but overall reduces the chances of transmitting it.
He says access to ART is not only a fundamental human right but also critical to the improvement of life and longevity for people with HIV in Fiji.
Lutukivuya has also emphasised the need to strengthen the importance of monitoring and support systems for people with HIV on ART with regularly followed-up routine viral load monitoring and counseling that is vital to ensure optimal treatment outcomes.
He adds let us work together to guarantee quality support for people living with HIV and strive towards an inclusive society that values health and dignity.
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