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WHO Updates Recommendations for Point-of-Care Testing for Children, Monitoring of HIV Treatment

NEW YORK ─ The World Health Organization on Wednesday provided updated recommendations for the use of point-of-care tests in children less than 18 months and the monitoring of treatment in people living with HIV.

The WHO further updated its recommendations for a treatment monitoring algorithm and the timing of antiretroviral therapy among people living with HIV who are being treated for tuberculosis.

The agency said it strongly recommends the use of POC nucleic-acid testing to diagnose HIV in infants and children younger than 18 months. When professional staff capacity is limited, the sharing of specimen collection and POC testing with non-laboratory personnel should be implemented, the WHO added.

The agency said it conditionally recommends that POC viral load testing may be used to monitor treatment among people living with HIV who are receiving antiretroviral therapy. It issued a conditional recommendation when the evidence around the benefits and risks of an intervention are less certain.

The recommendations are an update to the 2016 WHO Consolidated Guidelines on the use of ARV drugs for treating and preventing HIV infection.

"These recommendations make it clear that there is now evidence that integrated delivery of people-centered HIV, TB, [noncommunicable diseases], mental health, and sexual and reproductive health services will be needed to reach our goals of ending AIDS as a public health issue by 2030," Meg Doherty, director of the WHO Global HIV, Hepatitis, and STI Programmes, said in a statement.

Following an extensive process to establish the scope of its guidelines, the WHO convened two guideline development groups that met virtually in September and October last year to prepare recommendations. The guideline development groups consisted of people living with HIV, policymakers from ministries of health, researchers, and healthcare providers. 

The agency said the recommendations are for rapid use and access by ministries of health, HIV program managers, members of civil society, and other stakeholders.

The WHO will update its Consolidated HIV Guidelines in July and integrate all new and older recommendations into one document, it said.

In January, the agency published the latest edition of its essential diagnostics list (EDL) of recommended in vitro diagnostic tests that should be available at the point of care and in laboratories in all countries.