This week the World Health Organization (WHO) released new guidelines on the initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in patients with HIV and pre-exposure prophylaxis for those at risk of HIV infection. They now recommend anyone infected with HIV should begin ART upon diagnosis. This differs from previous recommendations which based the need for ART on CD4 levels (a measure of immune cell counts). Additionally, these new guidelines recommend daily pre-exposure prophylaxis for people at substantial risk of HIV infection.
These recommendations are based on recent clinical trials which found early ART leads to better clinical outcomes and reduces HIV transmission to partners. With these new recommendations they anticipate the number of patients eligible for antiretroviral therapy to increase from 28 million to 37 million. The WHO believes these changes will help prevent 21 million AIDS-related deaths and 28 million new infections by 2030.