The World Health Organization has announced that all limitations for the eligibility of the tested and proven antiretroviral therapy (ART) will be lifted. According to the WHO’s guidelines, all people should be treated with ART, even those whose immune systems have not yet been compromised. The announcement underscores the increasing drive to take HIV head on, and the willingness to use all the tools in the tool box.
Viruses are exceptionally difficult to treat, often being much more difficult to destroy than bacteria. Years of research has resulted in an antiretroviral therapy regime that is capable of largely fending off AIDs, and allowing people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus to live relatively normal lives.
The ART treatment program works by attacking HIV on multiple fronts, with the medicines aiming to stop HIV from reproducing. Once reproduction is brought under control, the body is in a much better position to keep the virus in check, and even to destroy its presence outright in the body. So far, a total of 25 different drugs, spread out across six different drug classes, are a part of the ART treatment regime.
As you can imagine, the ART field is a complex one. If you’re really interested in getting an in-depth overview of HIV treatments, this video offers a great start.
The United Nations and the World Health Organization are looking to get HIV completely under control by 2030, an ambitious goal for a disease that has killed nearly 40 million people. The most important step in bringing the disease under control is to stop its spread. The WHO estimates that as many as two million people were newly infected with HIV in 2014, and that approximately 1.2 million people died.
The WHO also recommends those members of at-risk communities start to take daily oral doses pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP. At risk communities include men who have sex with men, intravenous drug users, and sex workers. A combination of PrEP and ART treatments could help the WHO bring HIV under control and possibly even meet its 2030 goal.
Recently, studies concluded that PrEP is highly effective at treating HIV. In one study, 657 high-risk individuals were tracked in San Francisco while taking the so-called Truvada PrEP pill, and none contracted HIV, suggesting that the pill likely prevented any infections from taking place. A second study in the United Kingdom also found that those who took Truvada were at a much lower risk of contracting HIV.