MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

Global Fund praises new HIV guidelines released by WHO

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria expressed its support on Monday for new World Health Organization guidelines that could speed up efforts to end HIV as a public health threat.

The new guidelines simplify first-line HIV treatment using a once-per-day, fixed-dose combination and by making the first-line treatment regimen the same for all categories of people requiring treatment. The Global Fund said the guidelines will be very useful for countries trying to develop more effective and simpler first- and second-line treatment regimens.

The fund also said the guidelines could save more lives, provide better value, add more global equity by encouraging earlier treatment and retain flexibility for countries to prioritize individuals with the greatest need.

"We're really pleased that WHO is taking this important step," Mark Dybul, the executive director of the Global Fund, said. "It will support countries to design their programs and develop their own approaches to fighting their unique epidemic including addressing hot spots with high transmission."

The WHO's guidelines urge all countries to start treatment in adults living with HIV when their CD4 cell count drops to 500 cells or less, while their immune systems remain strong. The previous recommendation made by the WHO in 2010 recommended treatment at 350 CD4 cells or fewer.

The guidelines also include the provision of antiretroviral therapy for all children with HIV under the age of five, all people living with HIV who are in a relationship with a partner who is uninfected and all pregnant and breastfeeding women with HIV, regardless of their CD4 cell count.