The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that infects cells of the immune system, destroying or impairing their function. The most advanced stage of HIV infection is acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). It can take 10-15 years for an HIV-infected person to develop AIDS.

HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, transfusion of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated needles and between a mother and her infant during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

There is currently no cure for HIV. But with adherence to antiretroviral treatment, the progression of HIV in the body can be slowed to a near halt.

*Information from World Health Organization


HIV/AIDS can kill individuals, destroy families, and weaken communities. The burden goes far beyond the health sector, with negative effects on the economy and educational systems of poor countries. Of the 33.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS today, the majority will become patients with limited access to health care and dependent on their family members to look after them. They will be unable to work putting financial strains on their families. Children often leave school in order to take care of their sick parents or go to work to make up for lost income. And the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS is still so strong that many people will not even use the word – isolating the infected and the sick, making prevention ever more difficult.

The evidence supporting increased investment in HIV response has never been clearer or more compelling. Due to universal access to effective HIV prevention, treatment, care and support the overall growth of the global AIDS epidemic appears to have stabilized. The number of new infections has fallen from 2.1 million in 2004 to an estimated 1.8 million in 2009.

Increasing evidence also definitively demonstrates that investments in HIV response can lead to clear reductions in discrimination and stigma, help people in accessing information and services to reduce their risk of HIV infection, and deliver the treatment, care, and support that will extend and improve the lives of people living with HIV.

*Information from UNAIDS 2010 Report on Global AIDS Epidemic


In the global fight against HIV/AIDS, International Medical Corps has decades of experience working on the front lines in over two dozen countries including twelve in sub-Saharan Africa, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Pakistan. Through global and bilateral projects, our work has focused on developing local capacity to increase the utilization of health services in priority health programs, including HIV/AIDS. In sub-Saharan Africa our teams often operate in extremely challenging environments, often in the midst of a crisis or in remote areas. International Medical Corps implements HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment programs while strengthening local capacity.


KENYA'S FISHING COMMUNITIES: International Medical Corps responds to the high HIV prevalence


Prevention and control of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS is an integral component of International Medical Corps' community-based reproductive, maternal, and primary health care programs. We work within a broad range of HIV/AIDS program areas from direct service delivery, to the integration of TB and HIV programs and addressing food security with HIV/AIDS infected and affected individuals and households. Our programs provide care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS and impacted communities. They help lower the risk of HIV infection and strengthen cultural values, such as marital fidelity, that have been weakened by the stress of war. In these settings we are also well placed to address gender-based violence.

In all our programs, we work with a variety of stakeholders, from host country governments at the national and local level, community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, international and private voluntary organizations, and private and public health care providers.

The pillars of International Medical Corps' HIV/AIDS program approach include:

  • Active involvement of local communities
  • Integration of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment including confidential counseling and testing, education, and training into our primary health care activities
  • Addressing the clinical, social, and economic aspects of HIV/AIDS

International Medical Corps increases the capacity of local health workers to provide quality HIV/AIDS care and treatment services and the provision of direct medical services. These services include voluntary and confidential counseling and testing, facilitation of antiretroviral therapy for adults and children, treatment of opportunistic infections, systematic management of sexually transmitted infections, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission. We also equip local health personnel and communities with the skills and knowledge to prevent HIV and STIs and fight HIV/AIDS stigma. International Medical Corps implements localized training programs for primary health care personnel in HIV/AIDS diagnosis and care, as well as training on home-based care and testing for community health workers.

Recognizing that sustainable health programs require more than provision of services and building local capacity, our programs seek to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods to address the economic impact of HIV/AIDS. We similarly address systemic and chronic food insecurity through targeted food and nutrition support to HIV-affected populations.


For nearly 30 years, a significant number of International Medical Corps’ responses have included technical assistance for the treatment and control of epidemic diseases. We work to help vulnerable communities prevent and respond to infectious diseases that have the potential to cross borders and become acute public health risks including:


For 30 years, International Medical Corps has worked to relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster and disease by delivering vital health care services that focus on training, helping devastated populations return to self-reliance.


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