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Title Early initiation of antiretroviral therapy and universal HIV testing in sub-Saharan Africa: Has WHO offered a milestone for HIV prevention?
Author(s) Sonia Menon - Personal Name
Subject Reproductive Health
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Publishing Year 2010
Specific Detail Info The majority of new HIV infections occur in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing countries with scarce financial resources and meagre health system infrastructure. Expansion of Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) may overwhelm health services capacity, result in suboptimal care, and divert attention from crucial preventive measures. A 2009 WHO guideline recommends earlier initiation of ART for adults and adolescents, treatment at CD4 counts of 350 cells/mm3 along with universal testing. For sub-Saharan Africa, WHO previously recommended a threshold of 200 cells/mm3. Despite vast potential benefits of early ART initiation at individual and community levels, it does not necessary follow that clinical experience in industrialised countries can be replicated in resource-limited settings with moderate to high HIV burdens. Adherence to the 2009 WHO guidelines is unlikely to be sustainable without guarantees of adequate national and donor support – something all developing countries need to consider before adoption of the new policy.
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