Media for Freedom External Web Site Policy, (07.05.2013)
During the Seventh IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment, and Prevention, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new HIV treatment and prevention guidelines that recommended offering antiretroviral therapy (ART) to HIV-infected adults whose CD4 cell count fell to 500 cells per cubic millimeter or lower. The guidelines also recommended ART for certain HIV-infected people—children under five, pregnant and breastfeeding women, partners of uninfected people, those co-infected with hepatitis B, and people with active TB—regardless of CD4 cell count. The guidelines endorsed treating adults, pregnant women, adolescents, and older children with a single, fixed-dose pill containing tenofovir, lamivudine (or emtricitabine), and efavirenz. WHO updated the guidelines to reflect recent evidence that “earlier ART” could help HIV-infected people live longer, healthier lives and reduce HIV transmission substantially.
WHO’s 2010 guidelines, adopted by 90 percent of all countries, recommended offering ART at 350 CD4 cells per cubic millimeter or lower. By the end of 2012, approximately 9.7 million people were taking ART. Adoption of the 2013 guidelines might prevent 3 million deaths and 3.5 million new HIV infections between now and 2025.
According to Dr. B.B. Rewari from India’s National AIDS Control Organization, the new guidelines will help reduce the gap that exists between the standard of care in developed and developing countries. Ongoing challenges included increasing HIV testing so that more people knew their status, supplying ART to those who required it, and retaining HIV patients in care.
Mitchell Warren, spokesperson for the global advocacy organization AVAC, urged a comprehensive, coordinated approach that included all options, including male circumcision, male and female condoms, pre-exposure prophylaxis, clean needles for injection drug users, and continuing development of vaccines and HIV microbicides. Other populations that faced barriers to HIV prevention and care included HIV-infected children, men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, and injection drug users.