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Early ART holds promise but a few concerns remain

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The Indian Express
07 July 2013

Just a month ago, medical journals were avidly debating how after 30 years there was no consensus on 'when to start' treatment for HIV. Then, the controversy surrounding when to start treatment was addressed in two debate articles published in BMC Medicine. Just three days ago, World Health Organisation recommended new guidelines on the use for anti– retroviral drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection and the big question now is whether it is 'doable' or will the debate continue to rage on?

As part of its effort to know the epidemic better, India has improved its surveillance system in recent years and increased the number of population groups covered. What was once a poorly understood disease has become a treatable condition. According to recent estimates there are 2.1 million people living with HIV in the country out of which 6.5 lakh are on anti–retroviral treatment. National AIDS Control Organisation officials admit though that another 17 lakh are registered for treatment and it will take a couple of years to actually implement the new WHO guidelines.

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New HIV treatment guidelines offer hope

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The Times of India
07 July 2013
New Delhi, India.

A new set of HIV treatment and prevention guidelines have been issued by the World Health Organisation, recommending anti–retroviral therapy earlier than it was administered before. Information regarding new guidelines was disseminated among HIV–positive persons by non government organisations at a programme here on Thursday.

The guidelines are based on scientific evidence that early initiation of ART can help people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives, and substantially reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others. "The new recommendations encourage all countries to initiate treatment in adults living with HIV when their specific (CD4) cell count falls to 500 cells per unit or less against the old norm of 350 cells per unit. This is the time the immune system is still strong," said Dr BB Rewari from National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).

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Stem-cell therapy ‘wipes out’ HIV in two patients

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Times of India
04 July 2013

Two men with HIV have been offAIDSdrugsforseveralmonthsafter receiving stem–cell transplants that appear to have cleared the virus from their bodies, researchers said on Wednesday.

Thepatients–whoweretreatedin Boston and had been on long–term drugtherapytocontroltheirHIV–received stem–cell transplants after developing lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.

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National AIDS programme gets Rs 2,550 crore

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Zee News
03 March 2013
New Delhi, India

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs Thursday approved a proposal for the implementation of National AIDS Control Support Project (NACSP) under the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) at an outlay of Rs.2,550 crore, an official statement said.

The NACSP will contribute towards intensifying and consolidating prevention services with a focus on highly vulnerable populations, high risk groups and bridge population.

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It will also focus on institutional strengthening and financial management.

The NACP is financed by the Indian government and the World Bank in equal proportion. Presently, the fourth phase of NACP (2012-17) is going on.

Earlier this month, the World Bank approved the fourth of a series of credits aimed at supporting India`s AIDS control programme which seeks to curb the spread of HIV.

The $255 million credit to the National AIDS Control Support Project will help accelerate AIDS prevention programs by targeting vulnerable groups at high risk of infection.

Some 2.4 million Indians are presently living with HIV-AIDS. It ranks third after South Africa and Nigeria in HIV-AIDS cases.

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Baby born with HIV 'cured'

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The Telegraph
03 March 2013

A baby girl who was born with HIV has been cured after very early treatment with standard drug therapy, US researchers have said, in a potentially ground-breaking case that could offer insights on how to eradicate HIV infection in its youngest victims.

The child's story is the first account of an infant achieving a so-called functional cure, a rare event in which a person achieves remission without the need for drugs and standard blood tests show no signs that the virus is making copies of itself.

More testing needs to be done to see if the treatment would have the same effect on other children, but the results could change the way high-risk babies are treated and possibly lead to a cure for children with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

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