Health topics

Antiretroviral therapy


Use of antiretrovirals for treatment and prevention of HIV infection

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) consists of the combination of at least three antiretroviral drugs to maximally suppress the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). ART prevents both, the progression of HIV disease and transmission of the virus. Huge reductions in the rates of death and suffering when use is made of a potent treatment regimen, particularly in early stages of the disease. ART also has the potential to reduce the risk of HIV transmission and deaths in people who are co-infected with tuberculosis or hepatitis B.

In September 2015, WHO began to recommend offering ART to all people living with HIV, regardless of CD4 count. In December 2015, key recommendations on clinical interventions and service delivery that show countries how to expand treatment to all will be launched.

WHO is working to improve access to HIV treatment in developing countries by optimizing drugs and diagnostics, and service delivery.

Based on statistics from the end of 2014, 520 000 people in the Western Pacific Region were receiving ART. This covers 37% of the people living with HIV in the region.