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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 2, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 40
WHO expands PrEP guidelines
Nine million added to group who should get treatment
Section One
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WHO expands PrEP guidelines
Nine million added to group who should get treatment

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

In new guidelines released at the end of September, the World Health Organization (WHO) expanded its recommendations on the use of antiretroviral drugs.

All HIV-positive people should get antiretroviral therapy (ART), and all people at risk for HIV infection should get the same drugs as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) therapy, WHO said.

'The first of these recommendations is based on evidence from clinical trials and observational studies released since 2013 showing that earlier use of ART results in better clinical outcomes for people living with HIV compared with delayed treatment,' the group said.

'The second recommendation is based on clinical trial results confirming the efficacy of the ARV drug tenofovir for use as PrEP to prevent people from acquiring HIV in a wide variety of settings and populations.'

According to the New York Times, the new guidelines would increase the number of people receiving medications by about nine million. Previous WHO guidelines had recommended PrEP for Gay men, people with HIV-positive partners, and prostitutes.

HIV specialists welcomed the expanded guidelines, noting that the so-called 'ABC strategy' - abstinence, being monogamous, and condoms - had not worked.

Dr. Mark Dybul, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said the two recommendations were 'critically important to moving us toward fast-track treatment and prevention goals.'

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the United States' Global AIDS Coordinator and head of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, called the new guidelines 'transformative to epidemic control.'

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advocated the combination of ART for HIV-positive individuals and PrEP for HIV-negative people for years. Cities that have devoted significant resources into the program - San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia, for example - have seen their infection rates plummet.

About 37 million people are now infected with HIV, WHO says, but only 14 million are now on ART.

WHO did not estimate the cost of expanding ART and PrEP treatments.

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WHO expands PrEP guidelines
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