STAKEHOLDERS in the health sector have hailed a new requirement that compels health institutions to immediately introduce anti-retroviral therapy on any patient who tests HIV-positive.
By Phyllis Mbanje
The new findings mean patients now do not have to wait for results of the CD4 count.
Health experts said the move would go a long way in minimising health complications associated with late treatment.
United States health officials recently said preliminary data of a clinical trial known as Start for Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment (START), had shown that those put on treatment immediately after being tested had a 53% lower chance of dying or having an Aids-related complication.
The United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) welcomed the news saying that starting antiretroviral therapy at a higher CD4 (a measure of immune system health) level would have a positive effect on the health and well-being of people living with HIV.
“Every person living with HIV should have immediate access to life-saving anti-retroviral therapy,” said Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS. “Delaying access to HIV treatment under any pretext is denying the right to health.”
Although Zimbabwe’s response to Aids is among the most successful, the epidemic remains a public health threat and much more needs to be done.