Optimizing HIV Treatment Access
The Optimizing HIV Treatment Access (OHTA) Initiative, 2013-2016, funded by Sweden and Norway through UNICEF, supports the scaling-up of lifelong ART for pregnant and breastfeeding women living with HIV in four countries with a high HIV burden: Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Malawi and Uganda.
The project aims to accelerate HIV testing and immediate access to a simplified, one-pill-daily, lifelong treatment regimen (also known as ‘Option B+’) for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers living with HIV. It uses catalytic investments to protect women’s health and prevent HIV transmission to their babies and sexual partners.
The OHTA initiative has three main objectives:
- To strengthen the capacity of primary health care systems to deliver lifelong HIV treatment for pregnant and breastfeeding women through the maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) platform;
- To increase timely uptake, adherence and retention along the PMTCT/MNCH continuum, especially through community engagement; and
- To enhance monitoring and evaluation for timely decision-making to improve service delivery.
An additional underlying aim of the OHTA Initiative is to provide evidence-based knowledge, experience, innovations and lessons learned.
Changing from a time-bound to a chronic model for pregnant women, requires even more focus on how to ensure the continuity of care over the long term so that women are supported to remain on treatment. As a result, the HIV community is actively seeking effective strategies to both ensure that women who are pregnant and HIV positive initiate treatment in a timely manner and ensure that they are retained in care over the long term.
By the end of 2014, OHTA had contributed to reaching over 71,000 pregnant women living with HIV/AIDS on treatment.