(RxWiki News) In its effort to put a stop to the AIDS epidemic by 2030, the World Health Organization (WHO) has made some big changes to its guidelines for global HIV treatment.
Among those changes is an expansion of which patients WHO believes should receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV: all 37 million of them around the world.
"The expanded use of antiretroviral treatment is supported by recent findings from clinical trials confirming that early use of ART keeps people living with HIV alive, healthier and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to partners," according to a WHO press release.
In its report detailing these new recommendations, WHO also said that people at high risk of HIV infection should receive preventive ART. High-risk groups include men who have sex with men and intravenous drug users.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is most often transmitted through sexual contact. Over time, the virus damages the immune system. When that damage is severe enough, the virus causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is a deadly condition in which the body cannot fight off disease.
There's no known cure for HIV or AIDS, but ART drugs can slow the virus' spread. These drugs reduce the amount of the virus in the body, which can also reduce a patient's risk of spreading the virus to others. When started early, ART can drastically lengthen HIV patients' lives.
According to WHO, these new ART recommendations could save an estimated 21 million lives and prevent 28 million new HIV cases around the world by 2030.