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Extend HIV treatment - WHO

Monday July 1st, 2013

Patients infected with HIV should be offered drug treatment much earlier than in the past, according to major new global guidelines published yesterday.

The World Health Organisation says patients should receive anti-viral drugs when their immune systems are still strong.

The guidance updates advice last issued just three years ago.

WHO said the change was "another leap ahead."

It says improved treatment could prevent three million deaths a year and spare another 3.5 million people from infection.

Currently nearly ten million people receive these drugs - but WHO says another 16 million people could be receive treatment.

The guidance was published at the International Aids Society conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Director general Dr Margaret Chan said: “These guidelines represent another leap ahead in a trend of ever-higher goals and ever-greater achievements.

"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.” 

Dr Unni Karunakara, president of Médecins Sans Frontières, said: "These new treatment recommendations are ambitious, and needed; they’re also feasible.

“Now is not the time to be daunted, but to push forward with what we know works to get the best treatment possible to the most people, as soon as possible. Countries should implement these new WHO guidelines and accelerate treatment without delay."

Tags: Asia | Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | World Health

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