Health department mulls new HIV treatment protocols

By Tamar Khan from Business Day...

The Department of Health is weighing up the practical and financial implications of expanding HIV treatment to more people, following the release of new guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The guidelines recommend that patients start treatment as soon as they are diagnosed with HIV, rather than waiting until their immune systems weaken, and say high-risk groups should have access to preventative drug therapy.

Weighing in on the conversation, Anova's CEO Prof James McIntyre said: "Everyone agrees on the science of test and treat. The question is how. It requires infrastructure, staffing and, above all, testing."

SA’s guidelines state that patients should start treatment when their CD4 count — a measure of the strength of their immune system — falls below 500 cells per mm³ and that pregnant HIV-positive women should start lifelong treatment.

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