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source: World AIDS Day – UCOF
source: World AIDS Day – UCOF
News release

28 November 2013 | Panama – Acknowledging the pivotal moment we currently face, the world should ensure that 15 million people receive HIV treatment by 2015 and use this achievement as a springboard to expedite progress globally towards UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO TREATMENT.

Although 25.9 million people worldwide are now eligible for antiretroviral therapy, actual demand for HIV treatment services is ostensibly lower. As expressed in the UNAIDS Treatment 2015 framework for strategic action, demand will be increased by reconceptualizing HIV testing, engaging communities in the promotion of HIV services. As well as intensifying educational efforts to increase awareness of the benefits of early therapy to individuals –specifically people living with HIV and key populations– and society at large. UNAIDS, along with its 11 Cosponsors –i.e. WHO, UNODC, UNICEF– and stakeholders, are galvanizing the process to revolutionize HIV prevention across the Latin American region.

Madrid City Hall celebrating The World AIDS Day 2013. Madrid, Spain, date 30.11.2013.
Madrid City Hall celebrating The World AIDS Day 2013. Madrid, Spain, date 30.11.2013.
New HIV treatment guidelines by WHO (June 2013) recommend offering antiretroviral therapy (ART) earlier. Recent evidence indicates that earlier ART will definitely help people living with HIV and key populations (LGBTI), women / girls and adolescents to live longer, healthier lives, and substantially reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others. The action could avert an additional 3 million deaths and prevent 3.5 million more new HIV infections between now and 2025.

The new recommendations –presented in WHO’s "Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection"–, as well as new data within UNAIDS report on the global AIDS epidemic 2013, reveal a total of 9.7 million people were taking these lifesaving drugs at the end of 2012.

“These guidelines represent another leap ahead in a trend of ever-higher goals and ever-greater achievements,” says WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. “With nearly 10 million people now on antiretroviral therapy, we see that such prospects –unthinkable just a few years ago– can now fuel the momentum needed to push the HIV epidemic into irreversible decline.”

The Latin American region: pioneering the call to initiate treatment at 500 CD4 cells/mm3 or less.

The new recommendations encourage all countries to initiate treatment in adults living with HIV when their CD4 cell count falls to 500 cells/mm³ or less – when their immune systems are still strong. The previous WHO recommendation, set in 2010, was to offer treatment at 350 CD4 cells/mm³ or less. 90% of all countries have adopted the 2010 recommendation. Argentina and Brazil are some of the few countries worldwide already offering treatment at 500 cells/mm3.

This recommendation is based on evidence that treating people with HIV earlier, with safe, affordable, and easier-to-manage medicines can both keep them healthy and lower the amount of virus in the blood, which reduces the risk of passing it to someone else. If countries can integrate these changes within their national HIV policies, and back them up with the necessary resources, they will see significant health benefits at the public health and individual level.

The new recommendations also include providing antiretroviral therapy –irrespective of their CD4 count– to all children with HIV under 5 years of age, all pregnant and breastfeeding women with HIV, and to all HIV-positive partners where one partner in the relationship is uninfected. The Organization continues to recommend that all people with HIV with active tuberculosis (TB) or with hepatitis B disease receive antiretroviral therapy.

Another new recommendation is to offer all adults starting to take ART the same daily single fixed-dose combination pill. This combination is easier to take and safer than alternative combinations previously recommended and can be used in adults, pregnant women, adolescents and older children.

UNAIDS is further encouraging countries across Latin America to implement a bold and proactive approach to HIV testing and treatment while normalizing HIV services in local health care settings and leveraging community-led efforts to promote HIV testing. Latin American communities –especially people living with HIV– are best positioned to address effectively misconceptions about HIV testing and treatment.

The case of Argentina and Brazil becomes an inspiring paradigm for the Latin American region as a whole to uptake the new HIV recommendations, calling for earlier treatment to push the HIV epidemic into an irreversible END. Let’s make it happen!

Note to editors (provided by WHO):
The recommended treatment is now a combination of three antiretroviral drugs: tenofovir and lamivudine (or emtricitabine) and efavirenz, as a single pill, given once daily.

For further recommendations, kindly check WHO website - Consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection.

source: PWA – World AIDS Day
source: PWA – World AIDS Day
>Snapshot of the Latin American region. New HIV infections:

In Latin America, the number of new HIV infections in 2012 was 11% lower than in 2001.

2001: 97,000 [78,000–120,000]
2012: 86,000 [57,000–150,000]

There was 37% decrease (as compared to 2001) in AIDS deaths in Latin America.

2001: 82,000 [63,000–100,000]
2012: 52,000 [35,000–75,000]

722,000 people were benefited from antiretroviral therapy (ART) by the end of 2012 across Latin America.
Still 778,000 people were lacking access to ART by the end of 2012.

For further and global information, kindly check UNAIDS website – AIDS by the numbers.

Source image HIV / AIDS: UNAIDS | Radioxyzonline. Sharp drop in new HIV infections.
Source image Madrid City Hall: ECS Group image stock bank.