SA to adopt WHO’s ‘test and treat’ HIV guidelines

SA WILL adopt the World Health Organisation’s new “test and treat” guidelines for HIV patients in September, enabling people to start treatment as soon as they are diagnosed instead of having to wait until their immune systems weaken, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Tuesday. Current guidelines say patients should wait until their CD4 count, which measures the strength of the immune system, falls below 500 cells per mm³ and that pregnant HIV-positive women should start lifelong treatment . The government also plans to start providing sex workers with preventative treatment, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, in June, said the minister. While at first sight the WHO’s guidelines might suggest that the country is destined to double the number of patients taking antiretrovirals, government officials and independent experts have previously told Business Day that a massive surge in demand is unlikely. Previous policy changes have not triggered large spikes in the numbers of those receiving treatment, and the numbers on treatment are expected to continue to rise steadily…..more

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