30 September 2015 | Statements

Unitaid welcomes new WHO guidelines for anti-retrovirals and pre-exposure prophylaxis

UNITAID has strongly welcomed new WHO guidelines for HIV treatment and preventive therapy.

The guidelines will help UNITAID to effectively support efforts to seek expanded access to HIV services for people with HIV or at substantial risk of contracting the virus.

The WHO recommendations call for antiretroviral therapy (ART) to be initiated for everyone living with HIV, even if their immune systems have not yet been compromised, as measured by the CD4 cell count in the bloodstream.

WHO has also recommended use of daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a prevention choice for people who are at serious risk of HIV infection, such as commercial sex workers, men who have sex with men and injecting drug users. PrEP is a method for people who do not have HIV, but who are at great risk of getting it, to protect themselves from infection by taking medication every day.

“These timely recommendations will make it easier for the poorest and most vulnerable populations everywhere to access the best treatment and services that modern science can provide and that are already available in the world’s richest countries,” said Lelio Marmora, UNITAID’s Executive Director.

It is estimated at least 21 million deaths and 28 million new infections could be averted by 2030, if a ‘treat-all’ recommendation was implemented fully and the prevention response stepped up.

The new WHO recommendations will contribute to achieving the global development goals agreed by the UN last week, including bringing the AIDS pandemic to an end by 2030.

UNITAID on July 15 called for grant proposals from potential recipients of funding in areas specifically addressed by the latest WHO guidelines.

One of the calls is aimed at funding programs that help accelerate availability in low and middle income countries of new, simpler and cheaper antiretroviral therapy.

Another call for proposals seeks to expedite the scale-up of use of antiretrovirals for HIV prevention through PrEP. UNITAID, in collaboration with health partners, intends to finance programs in Latin America, Asia and Africa to launch the strategy among vulnerable populations.

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