01 July 2013
GENEVA - The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said today that new guidelines set by the World Health Organization will accelerate efforts to end HIV as a threat to public health.
By simplifying first-line treatment with a once-a-day fixed-dose combination, and by making a first-line regiment of treatment the same for all categories of people who need treatment, the Global Fund said that the guidelines should be extremely useful for countries developing simplified and more effective first- and second-line regimens. That will increase the potential to save lives and deliver better value for money.
In addition, by encouraging earlier treatment, the guidelines make global guidance equitable while retaining flexibility for countries to prioritize for those in greatest need. Earlier treatment can have a clinical benefit for HIV-positive people and can also reduce new infections.
"We're really pleased that WHO is taking this important step," said Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund. "It will support countries to design their programs and develop their own approaches to fighting their unique epidemic including addressing hot spots with high transmission."
The new recommendations encourage all countries to initiate treatment in adults living with HIV when their CD4 cell count falls to 500 cells or less - when their immune systems are still strong. The previous WHO recommendation, set in 2010, was to offer treatment at 350 CD4 cells or less.
The new recommendations also include providing antiretroviral therapy for all children with HIV under the age of five, all pregnant and breastfeeding women with HIV, and all people living with HIV who are in relationship with a partner who is uninfected, no matter what their CD4 cell count is.