WHO pushes for far more aggressive worldwide use of HIV meds
- Clinical evidence supports the World Health Organization's (WHO) position that anyone with an HIV diagnosis should start anti-retroviral therapy (ART) immediately.
- Previous WHO guidelines from 2013 mandated that HIV-infected patients should start ART when CD4 counts fell below 500 cells/mm3.
- In addition, WHO's new position statment on use of ART states that all people "at substantial risk" of contracting HIV should be given preventative ART—not just men who have sex with men (MSM).
There is a definitive trend towards more universal treatment with ART for a broader community of people—with the goal of preventing HIV transmission and averting HIV-definining diseases in currently HIV-infected individuals. Prior to the 2013 guidelines, the WHO issued guidance suggesting that the threshold for treatment was CD4 counts <350 cells/mm3. Now, however, the WHO is encouraing a "treat all" plan—a plan, which according to the WHO, could help avert 21 million AIDS-related deaths and 28 million infections by 2030.
The impact of this policy change is significant, because it means that charity organizations such as Doctors Without Borders can offer treatment to newly diagnosed HIV patients immediately, instead of sending them home and waiting until they are immunocompromised enough to treat. As a result of this new policy, medications made by Gilead, Viiv Healthcare and various Indian generics manufacturers will be more in demand than ever.
Within the last 30 years, roughly 40 million people have died from AIDS. The UN's goal is to completely elimiate AIDS by 2030.