WHO to Convene Consultation on Strategic Use of Anti-retroviral Medicines for HIV in Eastern and Southern Africa

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Brazzaville, 18 March 2013 -- A regional consultation convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the strategic use of anti-retroviral medicines (ARVs) in Eastern and Southern African countries will take place from 19 to 21 March in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The three-day consultation will bring together more than 60 experts from nine countries, research institutions, and multilateral agencies, agencies in the United Nations system, donors and civil society.

The aim of the regional consultation is to identify ways of supporting the development and implementation of appropriate programmatic decisions and a regionally-driven research agenda on the strategic use of ARVs, and its practical implications for national health systems. It will also look into ways of ensuring that the benefit of treatment and prevention to the individual as well as the community as a whole is maximized.

The consultation will discuss, among other things, the emerging science and guidance for the strategic use of ARVs; critical health system issues including actors in the public, private, NGO, and civil society sectors that can facilitate the realization of the full potential of the strategic use of ARVs for treatment and prevention. Also to be discussed are needs applicable to the countries in the context of the strategic use of ARVs and the implications for national health systems Participants will also discuss and agree on approaches to monitoring and evaluation and ways of measuring the impact of the strategic use of ARVs.

Recent evidence of the benefits of ARVs for the treatment and prevention of HIV promise major new opportunities for the HIV response especially in the African Region which is worst hit by the HIV epidemic. ARVs are highly effective and vital components of all national HIV responses. Their efficacy for treating HIV and for prevention of mother to child transmission is well established, as is their use for post-exposure prophylaxis or short-term antiretroviral treatment to reduce the likelihood of HIV infection after potential exposure.

However, all countries in the Region are faced with important technical, operational, programmatic and ethical issues. In a context of limited financial resources and persistent health systems constraints, HIV programme managers are confronted with difficult choices among a broadening range of options for using ARVs to reduce HIV morbidity, mortality and transmission.

WHO is currently working towards issuing consolidated guidelines in 2013 that will, for first time, cover programmatic and operational issues to help countries take the best strategic decisions on the use of ARVs.

For more information, please contact:

Emil Asamoah-Odei; email: Tel: +47-241-39277 E-mail:

Brian Pazvakavambwa; Tel: +47-241-38175; E-mail:

Samuel Ajibola; Tel: +47-241-39378; E-mail: