The number of people who are now eligible to receive antiretroviral treatment, based on the new World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, has increased from 28 million to all 37 million people who are currently living with HIV worldwide.
People who are infected with HIV should start receiving antiretroviral treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis, and those who are at a substantial risk for contracting HIV should be offered preventative treatment as well, the WHO says in it’s new “treat all” recommendation for HIV released on Wednesday.
The new recommendation from the WHO means the organization has removed all eligibility limitations for receiving antiretroviral treatment among people living with HIV. “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,” the WHO said in a statement.
The new recommendations expand who should have access to early antiretroviral treatment, and now includes people in very early stages of the disease as well as children who are infected. For protective drugs that prevent contraction of HIV (called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP), the WHO says it should be offered to HIV negative people who are at a higher risk of being infected, such as men who have sex with men.
In the U.S. PrEP (brand name Truvada in the U.S.) was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012 and is recommended for people who engage in sexual activity that puts them at a higher risk for contracting HIV. If taken properly, the drug can reduce risk of HIV infection by 92% the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.
“These new recommendations will have tremendous impact on peoples’ lives, if rapidly implemented. So we must work together to support countries to translate them into action and results,” Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of Department of HIV/AIDS at WHO said in a statement.