Why Optimize

Anti-retroviral treatment (ART) has changed HIV from a fatal illness to one that can become manageable with a single tablet daily. New research showcases ART’s potential to both treat HIV-infected people and to protect those who are not yet infected.

Current Reality

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 targets and World Health Organization (WHO) “Treat All” guidelines require a rapid expansion of access to antiretroviral therapy (ART). Past clinical trial investments have resulted in increasingly simpler, more durable and less toxic treatment options.

New developments in the ART optimization effort have led to key clinical trials that will provide the necessary evidence to make further improvements to the safety, efficacy and affordability of ARVs.


The Challenge

Bringing these life changing drugs to over 33 million people who need it (World Health Organization 2030 predictive target), in an era of decreasing resources.

To achieve this unprecedented expansion of treatment, treatment must be optimized to address:

Side effects plague current first-line treatment.

This results in patients taking their medication inconsistently or not at all.

Inconsistent adherence to treatment places patients at the risk of developing drug resistance.

This requires a change in treatment regimen, often to a more costly treatment regimen.

Comprehensive safety and efficacy data is needed to fill in the evidence gaps.

This will inform and support change to treatment guidelines.

Cost efficiencies need to be realized in existing regimens and through new or reduced dose regimens.

This will ensure that resources remain sustainable to treat more patients over time.

Led by the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (Wits RHI) – through the alignment of the efforts of donors, scientists, regulators, implementers and advocates this partnership aims to address the challenge by accelerating access to simple, safe and more affordable optimized ART through following key activities :-

i. Identify and conduct clinical trials to generate data to fill evidence gaps identified in support of access to more robust ARV treatment.

ii. Harness novel technologies like nanotechnology to create improved ARV drugs at reduced manufacturing costs.

iii. Support countries, healthcare workers and communities with the introduction and uptake of optimized ARVs through healthcare systems strengthening, training and treatment literacy initiatives.