The MaxART programme (2011-2017)
Swaziland, with the highest HIV prevalence in the world, has successfully scaled up HIV testing and treatment. In the past few years, the country achieved near-nationwide access to antiretroviral therapy. Among many interventions leading to this success is the Maximizing ART for Better Health and Zero New HIV Infections (MaxART) programme.
Led by the Ministry of Health, Aidsfonds (previously STOP AIDS NOW!) in collaboration with Clinton Health Access Initiative launched
the pioneering MaxART programme in Swaziland in 2011. The ambitious goal of the
programme was to improve the lives of people living with HIV and prevent new HIV
infections in Swaziland. Regular testing, access to early antiretroviral
treatment (ART), and lifelong retention in care and treatment were key elements
of the programme.
Research demonstrates that giving people living with HIV the opportunity to be treated at an early stage of the disease considerably reduces the likelihood of transmitting HIV – by as much as 96%. Moreover, mathematical models predict that large-scale testing and early treatment results in a 50% drop of new infections over a period of ten years. It may be one of the most powerful tools available to get to zero new HIV infections: referred to as Treatment as Prevention.
The MaxART programme uniquely brings together a comprehensive group of multidisciplinary stakeholders by combining government programs, global and local networks of people living with HIV, academic institutions, and local and international NGOs. It contributes to the current National Programme.
MaxART has catalysed a breakthrough in Swaziland and is expected to act as a model for other Southern African countries.
The programme has been implemented in two phases:
MaxART Phase 2: Early Access to ART for All (2014-2017)
In the second phase of the Maximizing ART for better health and zero new HIV infections in Swaziland (MaxART) programme, we put into practice the exciting evidence that early ART has not only individual health benefits, but also contributes to the prevention of HIV transmission.
MaxART Phase 1: Scale up in HIV testing and treatment
The first phase (2011-2014) of the MaxART programme focused on addressing barriers to HIV testing, treatment and retention in care. After three years of implementation, Swaziland is on track. The country experienced the highest annual HIV testing rate ever. Ninety percent of the people currently eligible for treatment, are actively on ART, while retention has improved.