The Life Drama Project makes use of applied theatre & performance techniques to promote sexual health & wellbeing in Papua New Guinea, the Pacific and Northern Australia.


1.3.5 Treatment

There are close to 30 drugs currently approved for HIV treatment, grouped into 5 classes. HIV drugs are always used in combination, to attack the infection at different stages of its lifecycle.

It is very important that antiretroviral drugs be taken at the same time every day, in strict accordance with the treatment guidelines.

A blood test shows the patient’s viral load and CD4 count. International best practice guidelines indicate that a person with a CD4 count below 350 should be treated with antiretroviral drugs. Some people with a CD4 count above 350 are also recommended to begin treatment.

There may be difficulties with the supply of antiretroviral drugs to many areas in PNG. Advice on treatment options will be provided when the patient is tested at the VCT clinic.

HIV weakens the immune system over time, so that the body is less able to fight off opportunistic infections. The symptoms of opportunistic infections can be treated as they occur, but the immune system will continue to weaken because of the underlying HIV infection.

A patient is said to have AIDS when he or she develops one or more of a number of specific opportunistic infections, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and Kaposi’s sarcoma.

People living with HIV in Papua New Guinea give themselves the best chance of a long and healthy life by:

  • eating good food
  • getting enough rest
  • using proper toilets and adopting good hygiene practices (eg. showering, washing hands)
  • treating minor injuries and infections
  • having family and community support
  • being happy

For more information on treatment for HIV and AIDS, visit: