Drug reduces risk of life-threatening HIV-related infections

drugWHO advises travellers to summer Olympics, Paralympics games

The verdict is out: Adults and children with Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) who start antiretroviral therapy (ART) as early as possible reduce their risk of developing serious HIV-related infections.

The new findings were published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases on June 15, 2016.

Two studies in adults and children, supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and conducted in collaboration with Columbia University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and McGill University, are the first global systematic and comprehensive analyses of data on HIV-related opportunistic infections over a 20-year period in three global regions: Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The two reviews compared the risk of serious HIV-related infections before and after starting ART, then estimated the global number of cases of infection that would have been prevented (using data from 2013), and the costs saved, if ART had been started earlier.

The WHO has also issued health advice for travellers to the XXXI Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games Rio de Janeiro 2016, Brazil, will take place from August 5 to 21, 2016 and from September 7 to 18, 2016 respectively.

The following recommendations are intended to advise national health authorities and health care providers about practices and measures for travellers visiting Brazil to stay safe and healthy.

Before departure, travellers should be advised about health risks in the areas they plan to visit and related preventive practices and measures to minimize the probability of acquiring diseases and of having accidents.

Travellers to Brazil should consult the travel advice issued by their national authorities.

Dr. Philippa Easterbrook from WHO’s Department of HIV in a statement said: “Opportunistic and other infections are the major cause of death in adults and children with HIV. There have been previous estimates on the impact of ART in reducing deaths and new HIV infections, but not on its impact on each of the serious infections to which people with HIV are vulnerable, especially in low-income settings. Knowing how common these infections are is really important for planning HIV health services in these countries, including procuring drugs and diagnostic tests.”

In 126 different studies based on almost half a million adult HIV patients, the most common infections were oral thrush, tuberculosis, shingles and bacterial pneumonia – each of which occurred in more than five per cent of adults before ART.

In the second review – 88 studies based on 55 679 HIV-infected children – bacterial pneumonia and tuberculosis were the most common infections, each occurring in around 25 per cent of children before ART. As with the adult studies, there was a reduction in risk for all infections for those on ART, but this was greatest (by more than 80 per cent) for HIV-related diarrhoea, cerebral toxoplasmosis and tuberculosis, with a smaller impact on bacterial septicemia and pneumonia. It was estimated that earlier access to ART could have prevented at least 161,000 cases of serious infections in children, with a saving of around US$ 17 million in 2013.



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