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WHO Working On Consolidated HIV Treatment Guidelines

The WHO “says comprehensive HIV treatment strategies are needed in developing countries to overcome stigma and discrimination,” because “often those in need of HIV treatment and prevention are unable to receive [the services] because of their social status,” VOA News reports. Certain populations, such as sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM), and people who inject drugs, sometimes face “barriers … to access services,” Gottfried Hirnschall, director of the WHO HIV/AIDS Department, said, adding, “And we obviously see that as a consequence in many places these groups have higher infection rates. They have higher mortality, etcetera,” according to the news service.

A comprehensive strategy would address “treatment-as-prevention” — using antiretroviral therapy to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from infected to uninfected people — and when to begin treatment, the news service notes. “Hirnschall says, in recent years, the recommendation has been to start people on treatment much earlier,” according to VOA. Hirnschall “says it would cost more in the short-term to get more people on antiretrovirals sooner, probably billions more. However, he says in the long-term, the cost will drop and lives will be saved,” the news service writes, adding, “Hirnschall says the World Health Organization is developing what are called consolidated guidelines … to help developing countries form care and treatment strategies for vulnerable groups” (De Capua, 7/9).