UNAIDS tasks nations on new guidelines for couples' HIV tests

New York, US (PANA) - The Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Mr. Michel Sidibe, has called on all countries to implement new guidelines that encourage couples to go together for HIV testing to ascertain their status.

“By encouraging couples to test together, we can provide comprehensive options
for HIV prevention and treatment that they can discuss and manage jointly,” Mr. Sidibe
said in a statement made available to PANA in New York on Friday.

''The guidelines, released by the UN World Health Organization (WHO), also recommend that in couples who are serodiscordant – where one partner is living with HIV and the other not – antiretroviral therapy is offered to the person living with HIV to prevent his or her partner from becoming infected with the virus.

''The new evidence now shows that antiretroviral therapy reduces the risk of HIV transmission from a person living with HIV to their sexual partners,'' he said.

Mr. Sidibe said WHO recommends that antiretroviral therapy be offered to HIV-positive individuals in discordant relationships, even when they do not require it for their own health.

''The guidance also states that it is possible for couples to stay HIV serodiscordant indefinitely if they consistently practice safer sex using condoms,'' the UNAIDS chief said.

PANA learnt that with the new guidelines, couples who test together and mutually
disclose their HIV status are more likely than those testing alone to adopt behaviour
to protect their partner.

The guidelines also disclosed that testing together and sharing results also enables
couples to support each other, if one or both partners are HIV-positive, to access
and adhere to treatment and prevent transmission of HIV to children.

According to UNAIDS estimates, around 14 million people are eligible for antiretroviral
treatment. At the end of 2011, only 6.6 million people were receiving the life-saving
medicines.

The guidelines recommend that in situations of limited or inadequate resources, people who require antiretroviral therapy for their own health should always be given priority.
-0- PANA AA/SEG 20April2012

20 april 2012 08:19:40




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