Jul 19 2012
From Lillian Chukwu (Abuja) and John Akubo (Dutse)
AHEAD of the July 22-27, 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that increased use of HIV drugs known as AntiRetrovirals (ARVs) in Nigeria and other developing countries had resulted in resistance to some forms of treatment.
But the global health body assured that more strategic use of ARV medications could significantly reduce the transmission of the virus.
Director-General, WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, said: “Every year, more than a million more people in low and middle income countries start taking antiretroviral drugs, but for every person who starts treatment, another two are newly infected.
“Further scale-up and strategic use of the medicines could radically change this. We now have evidence that the same medicines we use to save lives and keep people healthy can also stop people from transmitting the virus and reduce the chance they will pass it to another person,” she added.
Meanwhile, Jigawa State Government has vowed to mete out punitive measures to persons found to have sabotaged the rounds of Polio vaccinations conducted across the state to serve as deterrent to others.
The Commissioner for Health Dr. Tafida Abubakar, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Alhaji Inuwa Tahir, gave the warning yesterday in Dutse, during the kick-off of the volunteer Community Mobilizers for the campaign against the polio.
He added that immunization would continue until no evidence of the disease would be traced to the state.
Reports said that some degree of HIV drug resistance is generally expected to occur due to natural mutations in the virus; but most cases of drug resistance are caused by preventable factors such as treatment interruptions and patients taking medicines incorrectly.
Director, HIV Department, WHO, Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall said: “When people take ARVs, the amount of HIV in their body is decreased, making them much less likely to pass the virus to others, if we can get, and keep, more people on treatment, and reduce their virus levels, we can reduce the number of new people who are infected.”
And three decades into the AIDS pandemic an end to new infections is in sight, according to Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“We don’t even know if a cure is possible. What we know is it is possible that we can end this pandemic even without a cure,” Fauci told Agence France Presse (AFP) in an interview.
Some 34 million people around the world are living with human immunodeficiency virus, which has killed 25 million since it first emerged in the 1980s.
The theme of this conference, held every two years, is “Turning the Tide Together,” and is based on experts sharing knowledge of the latest advances and how to best implement them in order to halt new cases of HIV/AIDS.
Fauci continued: “We have good and effective treatments but we have to keep people on the treatments indefinitely in order to keep them well.” He was referring to antiretroviral drugs which have transformed a deadly disease into a manageable condition.
“When you have a very marked diminution of the number of new infections then you reach what we call and AIDS-free generation.”
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