HIV/AIDS Implementation

Come January, the Ministry of Health will be incorporating two key World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines in the National HIV/AIDS Program.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Winston De La Haye, made the disclosure as he addressed the ministry’s 26th Annual Review and Planning Retreat at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel in St. James on November 16.

The first is the ‘Test ad Start’, which recommends that all patients should be put on antiretroviral therapy (ART) immediately after an HIV-positive diagnosis.

Dr. Winston De La Haye said the ART recommendation is based on scientific evidence from clinical trials and observational studies, which demonstrate that starting therapy early results in better health outcomes for persons living with HIV versus delayed treatment.

The second guideline, ‘Treatment as Prevention’, calls for the use of a daily oral pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a prevention choice for people at substantial risk of HIV infection.

The chief medical officer said it is anticipated that new patients will be eligible for treatment once these new guidelines are introduced.

He noted that the successful implementation of the measures will require strengthening of capacity in various areas of the national program, which is already under way.