3.5.2 HIV/AIDS

Emergency responses have been slow to address the spread through prevention and treatment of HIV, although both are life-saving health interventions.  These trends are changing as implementers begin to understand the importance of addressing HIV at the earliest possible stage of an emergency.

ARV treatment interruption can cause unnecessary increases in morbidity and mortality, and can also lead to drug resistance.  WHO advises that continuation of treatment for those already on ART prior to the crisis should be considered a priority intervention and part of the minimum initial response to HIV even in the acute phase of the emergency.

Prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child (PMTCT) during an emergency should also be a priority intervention, and appropriate national guidelines should be followed to ensure that the risks of vertical transmission are minimal.

Other methods to prevent HIV should be made free and accessible, such as providing condoms (male and female) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Universal precautions against HIV transmission should be employed.

Both the MISP (Annex 26.5.3) and the IASC’s Guidelines for addressing HIV in humanitarian situations (Annex 26.5.7) should be consulted to develop an HIV response that is contextually appropriate.