New HIV guidelines will help Europe meet the ambitious global goal
Globally, the spread of HIV has been halted and is now in reverse. However, during the past decade, the number of cases of HIV infection in the WHO European Region continued to increase, reaching the highest level ever in 2014, when HIV infection was diagnosed in over 142 000 people. New guidelines and recommendations will support Europe in tackling the epidemic.
"With the new, ambitious sustainable development goal of ending AIDS by 2030, Europe needs to take bold action and fast-track its HIV response" said Mr Martin Donoghoe, Advisor for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis with the Joint Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis Programme at WHO/Europe.
Several new WHO guidelines are available to support countries in strengthening their responses to HIV infection.
When to start antiretroviral therapy and pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV infection
One guideline provides advice on when to start antiretroviral therapy and on pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV infection. The new recommendations are that everyone living with HIV at any disease stage should receive antiretroviral therapy and that people who are not currently infected but are at substantial risk for HIV infection should be offered daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis as an additional choice for prevention.
"These two critical recommendations forcefully complement each other, by enabling people living with HIV and their uninfected partners to support each other in preventing HIV transmission. The recommendations help foster a spirit of shared responsibility, where HIV-positive people seek to protect their partners, and uninfected people are given a powerful means to stay safe," said Mr Henrik Arildsen, a person living with HIV and former Chairman of HIV Denmark and HIV Europe.
He added, "The wider availability of pre-exposure prophylaxis offers an important prevention option for uninfected men who have sex with men throughout Europe; it empowers people to protect themselves and is feasible to use in practice."
New guidelines on HIV testing services
WHO has released new consolidated guidance on HIV testing services, with a recommendation for use of innovative, targeted HIV testing services, including provision of HIV testing by trained lay providers (community-based testing) and HIV self-testing to be considered by national HIV programmes.
These guidelines will also support countries in meeting the new global "90-90-90 targets": 90% of people living with HIV know their status; 90% of people living with diagnosed HIV infection receive treatment; and 90% of people on treatment achieve viral suppression.
With almost half of new cases of HIV infection in Europe being diagnosed at a late stage of infection (CD4 cell counts less than 350/mm3) and many countries far from reaching the first of the three 90-90-90 targets, the new HIV testing guidelines provide strategic approaches that will be essential for countries to reduce the number of people living with HIV who are unaware of their infection.
World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day, marked each year on 1 December, is an opportunity for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care around the world.