HIV treatment restrictions to be lifted

All current restrictions on treatment of people with HIV will be lifted on October 1, Health Minister Anda Čakša (Greens/Farmers) said September 17 after a meeting with non-governmental organizations representing HIV and hepatitis C patients.

This means that all HIV-positive people will receive medical treatment in Latvia as of October. At the moment, HIV patients with cell count under 500 are offered anti-retroviral therapy.

Currently there are 30 patients with cell count higher than 500 - this is a small number and there is no reason not to provide treatment to these people, said Čakša.

At the same time, the current restrictions on treatment of people infected with hepatitis C will not be lifted for the time being.

Previously Čakša told LETA that lifting all restrictions on the treatment of people infected with HIV and hepatitis C could only be discussed next year.

As reported, Vinay Saldanha, Director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said during a visit to Latvia last week that Latvia had to end treatment restrictions for HIV patients.

Due to the treatment restrictions, it is not surprising that treatment of HIV is inefficient in Latvia. The HIV epidemic is spreading in Latvia, while HIV rates in other countries and regions have been decreasing, said Saldanha.

Latvia has been for a long time advised to offer people with HIV immediate assistance, however, it takes a long time for those infected to actually receive help. Only 38 percent of all people with HIV in Latvia receive medical treatment, which raises concerns whether Latvia will be able to attain the United Nations' goal to ensure that 83 percent of all those infected with HIV receive treatment by 2020.

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