ARV drugs can bring nearly dead AIDS patients back to life.

Photo: Jonx Pillemer

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The documentary The Lazarus Effect—a new collaboration between (RED), HBO Documentaries, director Lance Bangs and executive producer Spike Jonze—showcases the incredible power of antiretroviral (ARV) medication. These drugs fight HIV-AIDS and literally bring people who are near death back to life.

Even though AIDS is preventable and treatable, it has killed more than 20 million people in Africa. Lifesaving antiretroviral (ARV) medication has existed for decades, but until 2002, it was prohibitively expensive to distribute to the developing world. In that year, The Global Fund was established to help eliminate AIDS (as well as TB and malaria), and in six short years, it has helped to put more than 3 million people on ARVs.

Now, the difference between life and death is only 40 cents per day—the cost to fund the ARVs. When patients are given these drugs, a phenomenal effect can happen. A person at death's door can, in just 60 to 90 days, regain full health. It's called the "Lazarus effect," and it's nothing short of miraculous. 

Meet some of the people whose lives have been saved.


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