IFARA spoke with Ed Ngoksin from the Global Network of People Living With HIV (GNP+) about the new World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on HIV treatment and prevention. Ngoksin, a member of the WHO guidelines committee, described the new guidelines as mostly a consolidation of existing recommendations, with a focus on key populations -- men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers, people who inject drugs (IDUs) -- plus two new recommendations: pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for MSM and making naloxone (brand name: Narcan) available for IDUs to prevent overdoses. Ngoksin deemed the guidelines to be progressive because they take a step forward in addressing HIV in key populations.
There was much debate in the committee about the PrEP recommendation, Ngoksin recounted, because the wider availability of drug prophylaxis might discourage condom use, whilst PrEP was intended to be provided as an additional prevention tool. He explained that some in the community disagreed with the PrEP recommendation because of the lack of evidence for the impact of drug efficacy (for example, in IDUs) and the lack of evidence for such a rollout in the real world, not just in clinical trials. Ngoksin emphasized the need for prevention services beyond PrEP and called for ensuring equitable access to HIV medications for people who are already living with HIV. The WHO guidelines need to be used as a tool for demanding access to services from governments, he believes, particularly in light of problems with health systems and human rights for key populations in some countries.
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The video above has been posted on TheBodyPRO.com with permission from our partners at the International Foundation for Alternative Research in AIDS (IFARA). Visit IFARA's website or YouTube channel to watch more video interviews from the conference, as well as earlier meetings.
Barbara Jungwirth is a freelance writer and translator based in New York.
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