Antiretroviral medicine was introduced in 1996. ARVs are a treatment, not a cure. ARV medication must be taken diligently and for life. When the medicine was first available it cost about $10,000 a year, a cost prohibitive for most in the developing world. Organizations such as the Clinton Global Initiative have worked tirelessly to decrease those costs. Today that cost is around $140 a year. That’s 40 cents a day. Yet more than 70% of people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $2 a day.
Great strides to get people on medication have been made. In 2003, PEPFAR and the Global Fund started funding free ARVs to countries in need. In 2002, 50,000 people across sub-Saharan Africa had access to treatment. Today that figure is more than 6.2 million. With 23 million people in the region with HIV, access to treatment is critical and with the current global economic crisis, there are real fears of shortages in the funds necessary to combat the epidemic.