“Just a few small pills, and a simple regimen to adhere to… after fifteen years of always remembering to carry all your pills, it’s really like fresh air, a new life.”
Anton Basenko works for The Alliance for Public Health, Ukraine, and is the country focal point for the Partnership to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV Response (PITCH), an international advocacy project run by – and for – key populations.
As a person living with HIV (PHLIV), he is an ardent advocate for both PLHIVs and harm reduction programmes that help people who inject drugs (PWID) counteract stigma and access life-saving treatment. He now represents these communities through his participation in various groups at the international, regional and national levels.
Anton, who credits early implementation of harm reduction programmes with helping him discover his HIV status, has been on a variety of regimens in his 16 years as a PHLIV, from lamivudine/zidovudine (3TC/ZDV) to lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r). He speaks to the improvement in his quality of life since starting dolutegravir.
“Just imagine that before, in total during the day you should have like six or even seven pills from which four are really big, then with LPV/r two in the morning and two in the evening… now, it’s only two pills. One dolutegravir and one tenofovir/emtricitabine and that’s it…my life changed immediately.’’
He soon plans to switch to TLD (tenofovir/lamivudine/dolutegravir), a new single tablet regimen. “The less pills you have the better. One pill a day is already a dream. Maybe someday it will be one pill a month!”
Now married and a new father, Anton is focused on the future – advocating for sustainable financing, political will, informed decision-making, and effective procurement systems – to help Ukraine continue to build on the progress it has made in these disease areas. As a person who also has experience living with hepatitis C, he notes that under Universal Health Coverage, advocates for hep C, HIV, TB, and other diseases should band together to ensure access to high-quality, affordable treatment.
“It should be a joint front – advocates pushing for modern medications, and fast and simple access to them.”