In the new guidelines, anyone infected with HIV should begin antiretroviral treatment soon after diagnosis. All HIV-infected individuals will now be eligible for antiretroviral treatment regardless of disease stage or CD-4 cell count.
The guidelines that were launched, one of several activities as the world marks AIDS Day, are in alignment with the global targets which aim to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. These targets include 90% of people living with HIV being aware of their HIV infection, 90% of those receiving antiretroviral treatment, and 90% of people on ART having no detectable virus in their blood.
With this “test and treat” recommendation, all limitations on eligibility for antiretroviral therapy (ART) among people living with HIV/AIDS are removed.
“In order for sound implementation, testing and treatment for HIV infection is readily available and those undergoing treatment are supported to adhere to recommended regimens and are retained in care,” according to a statement from Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Health statement added that, “with these new guidelines we will incrementally enroll new clients on ART from the current coverage of 61% to reach 80% by 2020.The Ministry will aggressively monitor the attainment of these targets across all population groups in the country to make sure that no one is left behind.”
The Ministry is releasing a circular to all health facilities, and has also developed a comprehensive roll out plan, that will ensure that all facility staff across the country are trained on the new guidelines, and that facilities are supported to requisition for adequate stock of antiretroviral drugs to meet the slightly added demand for ARVs.
Minister Opendi hailed partners, U.S. Embassy Kampala World Health Organization, Uganda UNICEF Uganda UNAIDS The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Clinton Health Access Initiative DFID – UK Department for International Development DANIDA unfpa – Uganda and other International and National NGOs, Academic Institutions and Health Workers.
Uganda has made notable progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
There is high coverage of People Living with HIV on the ART program from about 329,000 in 2011 to about 834,931 in 2015 and the reduction in AIDS related deaths from 63,000 in 2013 to 28,000 in 2015.
Uganda is implementing a robust HIV and AIDS response following a combination HIV prevention approach. The focus of this approach has been the implementation of high impact structural, behavioural and biomedical interventions.
Interventions undertaken by the Ministry include: HIV Counseling and Testing, Family Planning, Condom distribution to targeted audiences, providing ART to all HIV positive people among others
As a result of this approach, the country has observed significant achievements such as declines in new HIV infections, decline in AIDS related deaths as well as a significant increase in the number of people living with HIV/AIDS who receive care and treatment.