ZIMBABWE is set to adopt new World Health Organisation (WHO) Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) guidelines, which have reviewed the stage at which a person living with HIV can be initiated on the life-prolonging drugs, the National Aids Council (NAC) has said.
Report by Staff Reporter
Under the new guidelines, a person living with HIV will now be initiated on ART if their CD4 count is at 500. CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that fights infection.
The country was currently using the 2010 WHO guidelines which uses CD4 count of 350 for ART initiation.
NAC chief executive officer Tapuwa Magure in a statement said: “WHO has released new ART guidelines, recommending ART initiation to be done using CD4 count of 500 up from 350. As a country we will review and adopt this recommendation.”
Approximately 1,2 million people are living with HIV in Zimbabwe and of these 600 000 were on ART. The new WHO guidelines would mean that more people would need ART and more resources would be required.
“New developments and interventions come with a cost attached to them. Although Aids levy collections are improving each year and more people are being put on ART from the levy, more resources are still needed to put everyone in need of ART on treatment,” Magure said.
“Early initiation of people living with HIV on ART will significantly enhance an individual’s immune system, hence reduced chances of getting opportunistic infections.”