Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 3rd 2013 Contents A32
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, July 3, 2013
New guidelines for HIV treatment could see mil-
lions more people in developing countries getting
The World Health Organization (WHO) is recom-
mending that patients start taking medication at a
much earlier stage of the disease.
The WHO says the guidelines, which are being
launched at an international Aids conference in Kuala
Lumpur, could help avert an extra three million Aids
deaths by 2025.
The charity MSF welcomed the move---but said
extra investment would be needed.
A single pill combining three drugs will be given
to people who are HIV positive much earlier, while
their immune systems are still strong. Algeria, Argenti-
na and Brazil are already doing this.
Not everybody who needs the medicine currently
receives it, although big strides have been made in
recent years in widening access to HIV treatment.
The WHO says these guidelines represent a "major
shift" in policy, and will result in the number of
people in developing countries who are eligible for
drug treatment rising from 16 million to 26 million,
or 80 per cent of the total who are thought to have
It is thought the guidelines will add ten per cent
to the US$23bn overall cost of treating HIV/Aids in
WHO believes global donors and the affected
countries themselves will be convinced that the idea
It agreed the policy after a year-long consultation,
in which evidence about the role earlier treatment
can play in reducing transmission of the virus was
The WHO s HIV/Aids director, Dr Gottfried Hirn-
schall, said: "It will be very difficult to end Aids
without a vaccine---but these new guidelines will
take us a long way in reducing deaths.
"We re recommending earlier treatment---and also
safer, simpler medicines that are already widely avail-
"We also want to see better monitoring of patients,
so they can see how well they re doing on the treat-
"This is not only about keeping people healthy
and alive---the anti-retroviral drugs block transmission,
so there is the potential for a major impact in pre-
venting epidemics within different countries."
Five companies make the daily combination pill,
which can cost about US$127 for a year s individual
treatment in countries where price reductions have
The WHO says there is an "encouraging trend"
of countries using their own finances to fight the
HIV/Aids epidemic such as Zimbabwe, which has
successfully used a levy on mobile phones.
The new recommendations also include providing
drugs to all children under five with the virus, all
HIV-positive pregnant and breastfeeding women
and to people whose partner is uninfected.
In all of these cases, treatment would start regard-
less of how far the condition has damaged their
Dr Hirnschall added: "We are still seeing young
children lagging behind in terms of access to treat-
ment. Two-thirds of adults that need anti-retroviral
drugs get them, but only a third of young children."
The Global Fund ---set up to fight Aids, tuberculosis
and malaria---welcomed the guidelines as "very time-
ly."Its executive director, Dr Mark Dybul, said: "This
is an example of how the Global Fund and the WHO
work together to support countries as we move
towards removing HIV as a threat to public health."
MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without
Borders) warned extra political and financial support
would be needed for implementing the recommen-
dations, which it said were "ambitious but feasible."
MSF medical co-ordinator in South Africa Dr
Gilles van Cutsem said: "With these new guidelines
our collective goal should now be to scale up without
messing up: to reach more people, retain them on
treatment, and with an undetectable viral load.
"There s no greater motivating factor for people
to stick to their HIV treatment than knowing the
virus is undetectable in their blood."
Paul Ward, deputy chief executive at the UK s
Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "These guidelines have
implications for the UK and would expand the number
of people eligible for HIV treatment." (BBC)
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
HIV/Aids drugs: WHO to recommend earlier treatment
A single pill
drugs will be
given to people
who are HIV
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