WHO: Treat HIV Patients Sooner
December 1, 2009
People with HIV should initiate antiretroviral (ARV) therapy earlier rather than later in order to reduce the risk of death and disease, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
HIV-positive pregnant women should also begin earlier treatment to prevent mother-to-child infection, WHO said. Pregnant women should begin ARVs at the 14th week and continue through the breastfeeding period, WHO said. WHO's 2006 guidelines had recommended ARVs at the 28th week, or third trimester, and evidence that ARVs could reduce HIV risk during breastfeeding was still insufficient at that time.
Adopting WHO's treatment guidelines will allow "many more people in high-burden areas to live longer and healthier lives," said Hiroki Nakatani, WHO's assistant director general for HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and neglected tropical diseases.
Boosting ARV access in poor countries -- especially those with weak infrastructure, limited human and financial resources, and poor integration of HIV interventions within maternal and child health services -- is fraught with challenges, WHO acknowledged. Even under current guidelines, some African clinics are turning away new patients. Experts say the earlier treatment recommendations could add billions of dollars to global AIDS-control costs.
In addition, convincing HIV-positive people to begin treatment before they are symptomatic could be difficult.
11.30.2009; Maria Cheng
European AIDS Clinical Society, World Health Organization Each Issue Revised HIV/AIDS Treatment Guidelines
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.