The World Health Organization’s most recent guideline for the treatment of HIV recommends ART for all individuals living with HIV. Although this new recommendation is gaining traction among wealthier countries, many countries have not yet adopted this guideline. Instead, those countries follow a strategy of providing ART only to people with low CD4+ T-cell counts, which was necessary early in the HIV epidemic, but it is unclear whether the use of CD4 counts was based on sound science and logic.
World-wide South Africa has the largest epidemic of HIV and the biggest anti-retroviral programme. But reaching the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target by 2020 and ending AIDS by 2030 will require an expansion of surveillance and strengthening patient monitoring. Both are needed to monitor progress, identify and correct problems and to demonstrate success. Here we outline the current state of the epidemic and discuss important issues that should inform the National Strategic Plan to be launched on World AIDS Day in December.
With the release of the WHO Consolidated Strategic Information Guidelines , countries are provided with a template, in the form of a depiction of the “Care Cascade”, permitting them to quantify the state of care as it currently stands. The Care Cascade begins by characterising all infected individuals in a population, before illustrating the cascading loss of patients at each stage of care between diagnosis and viral suppression. Countries are now beginning to produce estimates of their national cascades in order to evaluate the efficiency of current care programmes. This article discusses data issues related to cascade reporting and suggests ways to improve reporting.
To fast-track the HIV response and end AIDS by 2030, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) called for 90-90-90 targets for 2020. Achieving these targets has resource implications – it will require increase in spending and efficient utilization of HIV funding and lead to savings by preventing illness, deaths, and new HIV infections. Thus, how countries decide to allocate and prioritize their HIV funding will directly impact whether end of AIDS is achieved. This article examines the pattern, source, determinants, and impact of HIV spending on care and treatment from 2009 to 2013 in 38 LMICs, which are home to 73% of PLHIV.
Botswana has made substantial progress towards meeting the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target by 2020 under which 90% of people living with HIV will know their status, 90% of these will be on anti-retroviral therapy (ART), and 90% of these will have viral loads below 400/µL. In this paper we use a previously published model for Botswana to assess the future impact of their HIV control programme on new HIV infections, AIDS related mortality and the costs of doing this. We show that while treatment will have a major impact on incidence and mortality and will lead to net cost savings, prevention will lead to further small reductions in incidence and mortality, but will entail significant cost increases.
The remarkable expansion in access to ART globally since 2004 has transformed HIV from a life-threatening into a chronic illness. Improved survival as a result of ART has starkly highlighted the lack of preparedness amongst health systems to deal with the complex needs of children living with HIV as they grow older and enter adolescence. While the drive to increase coverage to ART needs to continue, there is also an urgent need for policymakers and healthcare providers to focus beyond the goal of prolonging survival and to concentrate ensuring that adolescents living with HIV achieve an optimum quality of life.
As the world embraces immediate treatment for HIV, the game is not over: stigma and discrimination persist; drug procurement, supply and delivery are failing in many countries; ways must be found to ensure adherence with treatment to keep people alive, minimize resistance and stop transmission; thirty million people will need treatment for the next half-century or until a cure is found. This is an auspicious time to review a few of the many studies that have accumulated over the last fifteen years in support of providing treatment for people infected with HIV as early and as soon as possible
We assess here the potential effect of expanded HIV treatment for the prevention of AIDS-related deaths. We analyzed the available UNAIDS data to describe AIDS-related deaths, ART coverage and new HIV infections in 30 countries with the highest AIDS mortality burden and compared it with data from eight high-income countries. For illustrative purposes, we also explored the potential impact of reaching international treatment expansion targets in South Africa and Nigeria- two countries with the largest HIV epidemics, but with different trends of AIDS-related deaths over time – through the examination of four treatment expansion scenarios.
As coverage of paediatric ART increases and guidelines for ART initiation change, it will be necessary to determine how best to monitor ART. Routine monitoring of HIV viral load is common practice in ART programmes in high-income countries, but, in sub-Saharan Africa, most ART programmes rely on CD4 cell measurements or clinical monitoring to detect treatment failure. We conducted a computer simulation of HIV-positive children to predict the effect of different ART monitoring strategies.
While in the past antiretroviral treatment (ART) for children aged 2-5 years was started only when the CD4 count or CD4% fell below a critical threshold, or a clinically severe event occurred, the new WHO 2013 guidelines recommend immediate treatment initiation regardless of the child’s immune status. Scientific evidence which can guide policies is sparse and conducting trials on the optimal timing of ART initiation is lengthy, costly, and ethically difficult. Instead, routinely captured observational data can be used to answer this question if the statistical analysis makes use of methods which allow a causal interpretation. One of these methods which allows causal interpretations is called “g-computation”.