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Zimbabwe to adopt new World Health Organization Antiretroviral Therapy guidelines.
May 6th, 2013
Zimbabwe is set to adopt new World Health Organization (WHO) Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) guidelines which have reviewed the stage at which a person living with HIV can be initiated on ART. The guidelines now states that a person living with HIV can be initiated on Antiretroviral therapy if his or her CD4 count is 500 or below (up from 350). Zimbabwe is currently using the 2010 WHO guidelines which use CD4 count of 350 for ART initiation. National AIDS Council Chief Executive Officer Dr Tapuwa Magure announced the new development at a NAC progress review management meeting. “ 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.”
According to NAC, approximately 1,2 million people are living with HIV in Zimbabwe and of these 600 000 are on ART. Nearly forty percent of the people on ART are being supported by the AIDS levy. The new WHO guidelines will mean that more people will be in need of ART and more resource will be required. Dr Tapuwa Magure assured the nation that the country will mobilise more resource to support the ART programme. “New developments and interventions come with a cost attached to them. Although AIDS levy collections are improving each year and more people being put on ART from the levy, more resources are still needed to put everyone in need of ART on treatment.” Using the 2010 WHO ART guidelines the country had managed to put 85% of people in need of ART on treatment.
Early initiation of people living with HIV on ART will significantly enhance an individual’s immune system hence reduced chance of getting opportunistic infections. Over the long term, the better CD4 cell response and viral load response that will occur with early therapy will decrease the risk for emergence of resistance to anti-HIV drugs. This will consequently reduce the costs of managing opportunistic infections being incurred by the health delivery system in the country.