WHO guidelines on HIV, hepatitis and STIs focus on populations with high risk of infections but low inclusion in prevention and treatment programs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published consolidated guidelines on HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that focus on5 "key" populations at high risk of infection, but with low inclusion in prevention and treatment programs. The guidelines were officially launched at the AIDS 2022 Conference in Montreal, Canada.
In a press release announcing their publication, Erika Castellanos, Director of Programs at GATE (Global Action for Trans Equality) and co-chair of the WHO Guidelines Development Group explained the focus on the 5 at-risk groups: men who have sex with men, trans and gender diverse persons, sex workers, those who inject drugs, and inmates in prisons and other closed settings.
"Key populations must be prioritized, in every setting and this means, as outlined in these new guidelines, planning to reach them first with prevention, testing and treatment as well as prioritizing key populations in funding programs," Castellanos said.
The policy brief accompanying the guidelines provides several reasons that the key populations in the response to HIV are also critical to achieving global elimination goals for viral hepatitis and STIs:
The consolidated guidelines are grouped under 4 categories: Enabling interventions; Health interventions; Broader health; and Supportive. Those that enable interventions largely focus on reducing structural barriers. The highlighted health interventions are those that have demonstrated direct impact on the infections in the key populations. Broader health issues than infection control are addressed. Supportive measures include such interventions as information and education, and creating demand for testing and treatment.
The newest of the guidelines, updated recommendations and good practice statements were developed using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) methodology, including the following 4 recommendations and 2 good practice statements:
In her statement to the press, Meg Doherty, Director of WHO's Global HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programs, urged acceptance and implementation of the guidelines. "All countries should prioritize reaching these key populations and supporting key population communities to lead the response and provide equitable, accessible, and acceptable services to these groups," she said.