Wednesday, 30 September 2015

WHO changes global HIV policy


For the first time ever, the World Health Organisation wants everyone who has HIV to be offered the life-saving drugs as soon as they are diagnosed.

In what is a major change in policy, the WHO on Tuesday said governments do not need to wait until the disease progresses as earlier prescribed.
The new recommendations also say that all those who are at risk of HIV should also be made to pop the antiretroviral therapy to help prevent the infection taking hold.
Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) is free in India under its National AIDS Control Programme but the treatment is not provided to every HIV patient. ART is initiated depending upon the stage of infection. HIV patients with less than 200 CD4 (while blood cells) require treatment irrespective of the clinical stage. Those with 200-350 CD4, ART is offered to symptomatic patients. Among those with CD4 of more than 350, treatment is deferred for asymptomatic persons.
WHO estimates that these new policies could help avert more than 21 million deaths and 28 million new infections by 2030.
With its "treat-all" recommendation, WHO removes all limitations on eligibility for ART) among people living with HIV; all populations and age groups are now eligible for treatment.
The expanded use of antiretroviral treatment is supported by recent findings from clinical trials confirming that early use of ART keeps people living with HIV alive, healthier and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to partners.
WHO is working towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 and expanding access to treatment is at the heart of the new set of targets.
These targets include 90% of people living with HIV being aware of their HIV infection, 90% of those receiving antiretroviral treatment, and 90% of people on ART having no detectable virus in their blood.
Michel Sidibe, executive director, UNAIDS said, "Everybody living with HIV has the right to life-saving treatment. The new guidelines are a very important step towards ensuring that all people living with HIV have immediate access to antiretroviral treatment".
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