The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged countries to phase out the use of Stavudine, the most widespread anti-retroviral, because of what it calls long-term, irreversible side-effects in HIV patients, including wasting and a nerve disorder.
In sweeping changes to its guidelines, the WHO also recommends that people with HIV, including pregnant women, should start taking antiretroviral drugs earlier to live a longer and healthier life.
For the first time WHO advises HIV-positive women and their babies to take the drugs while breastfeeding to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus that causes AIDS.
Dr. Siobhan Crowley of WHO’s HIV/AIDS department, says that, “The new recommendations are based on a solid body of evidence indicating that rates of death, morbidity and HIV and tuberculosis transmissions are all reduced by starting treatment earlier. This prolongs and improves quality of life.”
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