The World Health Organisation (WHO) has removed all limitations on eligibility for antiretroviral therapy (ART) among people living with HIV.
According to a statement on WHO website, dated September 30 2015, anyone infected with HIV should embark on ART soon after diagnosis.
“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 has also recommended that people at ‘substantial’ risk of HIV should be offered preventive antiretroviral treatment.
“This new recommendation builds on 2014 WHO guidance to offer a combination of antiretroviral drugs to prevent HIV acquisition, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), for men who have sex with men,” it reads.
According to WHO, expanding access to treatment is at the heart of a new set of targets for 2020 with the aim to end the Aids epidemic by 2030.
“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,” reads the statement.
It states that according to UNaids estimates, expanding ART to all people living with HIV and expanding prevention choices can help avert 21 million Aids-related deaths and 28 million new infections by 2030.
While in US for the United Nations General Assembly, in one of the meetings he had, President Mutharika said that in line with the Vancouver Convention, government will from April next year extend ART eligibility to all Malawians.
Ministry of Health spokesperson, Adrian Chikumbe, on Thursday said government has been preparing for the new guidelines.
“We have been preparing for this. But we were looking at first having the guidelines. What the new guidelines mean is that we have to procure enough ARVs. This also means we need to have updated statistics on HIV and Aids,” Chikumbe said.
Meanwhile, in a statement, an international medical humanitarian organisation, Médecins Sans Frontières, has applauded the new guidelines.
It says by adopting the “Test and Treat” strategy, Malawi has the opportunity to significantly impact on improving the health of people living with HIV.
“This is not the first time that Malawi has been one of the first countries to adapt their HIV guidelines. Malawi has shown itself to be a country that embraces innovative strategies in its HIV response, such as Option B+ as a means to help prevent HIV+ mothers infecting their babies, ” the statement quotes MSF’s Medical Coordinator Dr Reinaldo Ortuno.
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