The Topsy Foundation gives hope to those suffering with HIV.

With no known “cure” for the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), a direct effect of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The success of Topsy’s Antiretroviral drug treatment therapies (or ARV) in South Africa offers hope to millions worldwide currently suffering from the disease.

The development of Antiretroviral treatment will reduce both the mortality and the morbidity of HIV infection.

There are many forms of ARV available

The American National Institutes of Health and other organizations recommend offering antiretroviral treatment to all patients with AIDS.

The treatment works by combining a two or three different Antiretroviral drugs together in order to help the body defend against resistance by suppressing HIV replication as much as possible.

There are no individual antiretroviral drug has been demonstrated to suppress an HIV infection for any substantial amount of time and so these agents must be taken in combinations in order to have a lasting effect. The standard of care is to use combinations of antiretroviral drugs.

However the cost of such treatments are expensive and routein access to antiretroviral medication is not available in all countries. Once a patient begins ARV this is a lifelong commitment.

Initially the ARV treatment cost between US $10,000-15,000 per person per year. However when an Indian pharmaceutical company started to produce a generic version of the antiretrovirals at a much lower cost, sparking a price war between branded and generic drug makers. Forcing the large pharmaceutical companies to lower the price of their AIDS drugs.
This competition, coupled with pressure from activists, organisations – such as the Clinton Foundation – and governments of poor countries with severe AIDS epidemics, dramatically reduced the price of ARVs.

For most developing countries the most used antiretroviral drug combination is now available for $88 US dollars per person per year.

According to UNAIDS report, published in 2009 there are over 60 million people infected, with an estimated 25 million deaths and over 14 million orphaned children in southern Africa alone since the epidemic began in the late 1970’s.

With such a vast amount of the population effected the South African Government is involved with many organisations and charities aimed at helping those effected.Although most funding is through grants from the US government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

South African charity The Topsy Foundation have released this inspirational video documenting the success of its Antiretroviral treatment programme.

Shot by the Egg Film Agency for The Topsy Foundation with director Kim Geldenhuys.

This inrcedible footage shows how female patient Selinah reacts to the Antiretroviral (or ARV) treatment over 90 days. The beauty of this documentary is that the skeletal, dying woman at the end of the footage is in fact Selinah before treatment.

The smiling, healthier woman we first meet, is in fact “Selinah” today.

Jana Oosthuizen, Executive Director and Medical Doctor at Topsy says: “Selinah is not the exception to the rule, she is one brave woman that was willing to let us into her life to be able to tell the story of an HIV infected person in South Africa. There are many ‘Selinah’s’. People who have lost all hope for the future, but through the grace of God could be helped by Topsy to get access to Antiretroviral treatment in time to reverse the progression of the disease”.

The Topsy Foundation began in 2000 in South Africa with an aim to “Provide much-needed relief services to individuals and families affected by HIV, AIDS and extreme poverty.”

In 2005 Topsy introduced their Provision of Antiretroviral Care Project. This arm of the Topsy Foundation offers vital care for those suffering in rural areas. Their clinic is the only one in the area offering such a comprehensive range of services including:

• Voluntary counselling and treatment project
• Prevention of mother-to-child transmission project (PMTCT)
• Post-exposure prophylaxis project
• General care for HIV and AIDS patients project
• Cervical cancer screening project

Of note is the fact that not one HIV-positive baby has been born to an HIV-positive mother who has completed the PMTCT Project since this project started.

Although this video is inspiring there are still several concerns about antiretroviral regimens such as intolerance; serious side-effects; resistance- if patients miss doses, drug resistance can develop and public health; individuals who fail to use antiretrovirals properly can develop multi-drug resistant strains which can be passed onto others.

The Topsy Foundation is a registered charity and do rely on donations and public awareness to continue providing these services to those most in need. For more information about Topsy, how to donate or get involved please visit their UK website at:

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