News-CRUX-10     25th July 2023        
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Context: The World Health Organization (WHO) released new scientific and normative guidance for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) at the 12th International International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science on July 23, 2023.

Key Points

  • The United Nations’ health agency also recommended countries integrate mpox detection, prevention and care with existing and innovative HIV and sexually transmitted infection prevention and control programmes.
  • The new recommendations shed light on the critical role of HIV viral suppression and undetectable virus levels in enhancing individual health and preventing transmission of the virus.
  • The WHO guidelines described key HIV viral load thresholds as well as methods for measuring virus levels in relation to these thresholds. 
  • People living with HIV, for example, who achieve an undetectable level of virus through consistent use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) do not transmit HIV to their sexual partner(s) and are at low risk of vertically transmitting HIV to their children.

Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV

  • About: It is an infection that attacks the immune system by destroying the body’s immune cells called CD4, which help it respond to infection.
    • Once HIV attacks the CD4 cells, it starts replicating and destroying the cells, weakening the body’s immune system and making it more prone to certain “opportunistic infections” that take advantage of the weak immune system.
    • In a nutshell, if HIV is not treated, it can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
  • Transmission: Bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids and breastmilk can be carriers for HIV.
    • It can be transmitted through unprotected sex, transfusion of contaminated blood, sharing needles and syringes, and from a mother with HIV to her infant during pregnancy.
    • Typically, the time between HIV transmission and AIDS diagnosis is 10-15 years, although it may occur sooner.
  • Prevention: There's no vaccine to prevent HIV infection and no cure for AIDS. Protecting oneself from infection is the way ahead.