International AIDS Society and WHO Urge Universal Access to HIV Therapy for Prevention as Well as for Treatment

03:14' PM - Tuesday, 27/04/2010

November 4, 2009 -- Geneva, Switzerland -- The International AIDS Society (IAS) today saluted the World Health Organization (WHO) for its focus on scaling up antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prevention as well as for treatment. The WHO consultation that concluded today has reaffirmed the urgent need for universal access to ART for the treatment of people living with HIV, emphasizing the clinical benefit of early treatment for individuals, as well as the prevention impact of increased access to ART in reducing HIV transmission and tuberculosis (TB) incidence. The IAS's statement came at the end of a three-day consultation on ART for HIV Prevention convened by WHO.

ART significantly reduces HIV viral load, thereby reducing the risk of HIV transmission. In high-income countries, ART has virtually eliminated transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies, and a number of studies indicate that universal provision of ART to people living with HIV would have a major impact on reducing HIV transmission and TB incidence globally.

A recent mathematical model by Granich et al (WHO, 2009) also has proposed that universal, voluntary HIV testing on an annual basis, immediately followed by ART for all persons who test positive, would likely result in a 95 percent reduction in annual HIV incidence globally within 10 years.

Noting that demand for ART access, and associated costs, will increase significantly as programs adopt the clinically sound CD4 threshold of 350 cells/mm3 as a starting point for ART, Montaner added that "savings from reduced HIV transmission, increased well being, and decreased illnesses and hospitalizations make such a move not only feasible but also fiscally sound. Our models suggest that this can be a highly cost-effective strategy."

Source: IAS

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