Bots vacillates as WHO declares HIV treatment

PALAPYE: While World Health Organisation (WHO) recently declared treatment available to individuals living with HIV regardless of their CD4 count, Botswana is yet to implement this new development.

Speaking at a two-day New Direction in Global Health Seminar held in Serowe yesterday, Centre for Disease Control programme officer, Mpho Letebele said that the matter is still at the Ministry of Health and they are hoping for the implementation of the uncapped treatment.

He explained that the recommendations are a major step forward in the global fight against HIV infection.

“They have the potential to dramatically reduce HIV transmission worldwide, increase the widespread use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) among those who need it most, and help those living with HIV live longer, healthier lives,” he said.

He added that anyone infected with HIV should begin antiretroviral treatment (ART) soon after diagnosis, saying that recent clinical trials confirm that its early use keeps people living with HIV alive, healthier and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to partners.

Letebele said that WHO also recommended that people at ‘substantial’ risk of HIV should be offered preventive antiretroviral treatment.

He said the recommendation can also help prevent HIV acquisition, especially with the use of PrEP in men who have sex with men.

Based on the new recommendations, the number of people eligible for antiretroviral treatment increases from 28 million to 37 million who are currently living with HIV globally.

Expanding access to treatment is at the heart of a new set of targets for 2020 with the aim to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

When ART started in the late 1990s, treatment was given to HIV/AIDS patients with CD4 count less than 200 that was later revised to 350 in 2010 until recently.

According to UNAIDS estimates, expanding ART to all people living with HIV and expanding prevention choices can help avert 21 million AIDS-related deaths and 28 million new infections by 2030.

For their part some of the health practitioners were a bit discreet with commentary on  the new development indicating that available resources are not sufficient enough to support ART for patients with CD4 count less than 350.

Onkgopotse Onduetse of Serowe District Health Management team said that it is a good initiative, however they are already overwhelmed by 350 and cautioned that some patients may stop the treatment thinking that they are free of HIV.

WHO released the new guidance declaring treatment for all individuals living with HIV regardless of their CD4 count on Botswana’s Independence Day.

HIV/AIDS still remains a crisis in the country where 380,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus, according to the 2015 Botswana Impact Survey.

Editor's Comment
Escalating fuel prices cause panic

Nowadays it is not uncommon to purchase an item for a certain commodity and return to the shops in a week, to find the same item has gone up by a significant amount of money.Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority (BERA) last week announced yet another fuel price increase, which follows yet another increase that came into effect on March 29. Hardly two months later on May 12 boom, BERA announced yet another increase, which came into effect at a...

Have a Story? Send Us a tip
arrow up