World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a new guidance recommending that everyone newly diagnosed with HIV should be offered the chance to start antiretroviral therapy (ART) within a week of their diagnosis.
People who feel ready should be able to start treatment on the day of their diagnosis. However, The new World Health Organization guidance was issued on the opening day of the 9th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2017) in Paris.
The recommendations are based on the results of a study that showed that people who started ART on the day of their diagnosis were more likely to be retained in care and have a suppressed viral load 12 months later.
But research presented during the conference showed the importance of adequately preparing people to start therapy very soon after diagnosis.
Indeed, a study in Uganda actually showed that people who started ART on the day of their diagnosis were considerably more likely to drop out of HIV care compared to people who started treatment days or weeks after diagnosis.
“‘Steep’ ART initiation should be backed up by intensive pre-ART counselling,” said one of the investigators.
Separate research conducted in Cape Town showed that knowledge of ART was associated with readiness to start treatment. Patients were also better prepared to start treatment if they knew someone whose health had improved thanks to ART.
The investigators also noted that preparing people for rapid treatment initiation involved overcoming concerns about possible side-effects among people who were in good health. #World-Health-Organization