IPSF APRO Policy Writing: HIV/AIDS
Policy Writing: HIV/AIDS
The International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) is a global advocacy organisation for pharmacy students and recent graduates which strives to promote public health through education, publications, and professional initiatives. The IPSF – Asia Pacific Regional Office (IPSF APRO) represents approximately 55,000 members from 18 countries and has been working together with its 28 Member Associations to promote awareness on a wide range of health issues among the public and advocate the pharmacy profession among its members.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) targets the body’s immune system by attacking the CD4 cells which then weakens the person’s defence against infections such as tuberculosis. 1,2 To date, HIV/AIDS remains a persistent worldwide public health threat, affecting around 37.9 million people and causing 770,000 AIDS- related death in year 2018 alone. 2,3 Recognizing the implications of this disease, there has been a collective global effort as part of the Sustainable Development Goals to advance scientific understanding of HIV as well as increase access to effective prevention, diagnosis, care, treatment and support to combat HIV/AIDS. 4
As the treatment for HIV involves lifelong compliance to medicine, pharmacists play a pivotal role in the multidisciplinary management of HIV therapy for best patient outcomes. The pharmacists’ scope of services extends to more than just therapeutic knowledge; they need to have a thorough understanding of the psychology of HIV patients so that they can use different approaches to support the patients with treatment. 5 In addition, patients’ struggles with HIV stigma and discrimination have directly been linked to poor diagnosis and treatment adherence. 6 It is of utmost urgency to start early and effective HIV therapies so that the success chances for patients to achieve a functional cure, which is defined as the suppression of viral load to below level of detection, can be increased. Hence it is vital for pharmacists as the most accessible and well-placed healthcare professionals to educate the community and encourage screenings amongst high-risk patients.
Every December 1, IPSF APRO commemorates World AIDS Day by carrying out online public health campaigns with a specific theme each year. In 2018, IPSF APRO tackled the topic on de-stigmatization of people with HIV/AIDS whereas in 2017, the campaign focused on debunking the myths around this disease. The posters and infographics shared on our social media were translated into several languages such as Thai, Chinese, Malay, Korean and Japanese with the hopes that they could reach a wider set of audiences around the Asia Pacific region.
As the future generation of pharmacists, IPSF APRO is committed to continuing advocating for our members and the general public as well as strengthening our members’ understanding on HIV/AIDS through continuous education and professional activities. IPSF APRO is keen and open to work and collaborate with partners such as the UNAIDS to develop programmes and establish an advocacy plan for the Asia Pacific region, particularly for countries and communities with limited access to resources. IPSF APRO believes that this synergistic partnership can help to maximise the impact and accelerate the goals of saving lives and driving new infections down.
1. About HIV/AIDS | HIV Basics | HIV/AIDS | CDC. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html
2. HIV/AID. WHO. 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hiv-aids
3. Global Statistics | HIV.gov. Available from: https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and- trends/global-statistics
4. UNAIDS. Available from: https://www.unaids.org/en
5. A career as a specialist HIV pharmacist | Career Feature | Pharmaceutical Journal. Available from: https://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/career/career-feature/a-career-as-a-specialist-hiv- pharmacist/10018084.article
6. ASHP. 426 Medication Therapy and Patient Care: Specific Practice Areas-Guidelines ASHP Guidelines on Pharmacist Involvement in HIV Care Background and Purpose. Available from: https://www.ashp.org/- /media/assets/policy-guidelines/docs/guidelines/pharmacist-involvement-hiv-care.ashx