Earlier Treatment for HIV/AIDS

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HIV/AIDS Medication

AIDS has a variety of symptoms that can be controlled with medications. Image by: Mikael Häggström

AIDS has a variety of symptoms that can be controlled with medications. Image by: Mikael Häggström

The World Health Organization also suggests that a change in medication will also help increase survival rates. The antiretroviral therapy, ART, is a combination of drugs that help reduce the amount of virus in the person’s blood.

There is now a new form of ART; instead of multiple pills to take throughout the day, there’s a single pill that the patient takes once a day. The new WHO guidelines recommend that all adults take this single pill, as well as pregnant women, adolescents, and older children.

HIV/AIDS Therapy Challenges

Despite the good news in the latest guidelines, there are still challenges that the medical community needs to address, and the recent failure of the HIV/AIDS vaccine is only one of them. According to the WHO, there are groups of people that have trouble accessing treatment, these groups include: men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender individuals, and injection drug users.

These groups of people face cultural and legal battles to access treatment, and for what ever reasons, often stop taking the medications.

Better HIV/AIDS Treatment Protocols: Saving Lives

The new guidelines will make 26 million people globally eligible for ART treatment, while today, under 10 million people have access to ART treatment. With these new guidelines comes a new challenge, however – making sure all 26 million people will have access to treatment.

In the press release, WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan stated,  “With nearly 10 million people now on antiretroviral therapy, we see that such prospects – unthinkable just a few years ago – can now fuel the momentum needed to push the HIV epidemic into irreversible decline.”

As some countries like Argentina, Algeria, and Brazil already offer treatment once a person’s CD4 count drop to 500 cells/mm³, and the new guidelines take effect for others, perhaps that time is on the horizon.

Resources:

AIDS.gov. CD4 Count. (2010). Accessed July 2, 2013.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Effect of Antiretroviral Therapy on Risk of Sexual Transmission of HIV Infection and Superinfection. (2013). Accessed July 2, 2013.

World Health Organization. WHO issues new HIV recommendations calling for earlier treatment. (2013). Accessed July 2, 2013.

World Health Organization. Global Health Observatory. Accessed July 2, 2013.

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