World Health Organisation changes will revolutionise HIV treatment
The World Health Organisation has upped its backing for drugs that can prevent HIV infection – recommending them for all at-risk groups.
Last year, the WHO formally recommended the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis drug Truvada – a daily pill which greatly reduces the risk of being infected with HIV – be taken by men who have sex with men.
The pill has seen a large uptake among the gay community in the US as a method of HIV prevention, though it is currently only available in the UK on controlled NHS trials.
However, following research demonstrating the remarkable effectiveness at the drug regime in preventing HIV infection, the WHO today has changed its recommendation to endorse PrEP in more groups.
It now recommends that anyone at “substantial risk” of contracting HIV be offered the use of PrEP – under dramatic changes which could see the drug offered to sex workers, injecting drug users and straight serodiscordant couples.
The WHO also recommended separate changes to approach to HIV treatment, for people who are HIV-positive.
The body recommends that HIV-positive people across all populations and age groups should receive antiretroviral medications.
The ‘treat-all’ approach would see all 37 million people around the world with HIV receive the antiretroviral drugs, up from the current from 28 million.
Tari Hanneman, Deputy Director of the Health and Aging Program and the HRC Foundation, was optimistic about the changes.
She said: “The significance of today’s announcement cannot be overstated.
“Simply put, millions more people – including LGBT people all over the world – will be eligible to receive life-changing medications whether for HIV prevention or treatment.
“With these expanded guidelines, we are one step closer to bringing about an AIDS-free generation both in the United States and around the globe.”