The Chinese central government said that it might soon expand free treatment for HIV/AIDS patients in response to the international demands for earlier and suitable treatment. Wu Zunyou, director of the National Center for AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Control and Prevention, while talking after the World Health Organization issued a new HIV/AIDS treatment guidelines that highlighted earlier antiretroviral therapy, also known as ART.

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The senior official urged countries to begin with the treatment among patients with a CD4 cell count – which is an indication of the seriousness of an HIV-related disease – of below 500 cells per cubic milimeter. At this stage, a patient usually has a strong immune system. The earlier recommendations were issued in 2010 and stated that the treatment needs to begin at 350 CD4 cells /mm3, or below.

Wu said, “The top health authority is looking at offering earlier treatment to the infected, which would help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others”. The official went on to say that an assessment study is also underway which will evaluate the initiative, but he did not provide a timetable for it.

At the moment, infected pregnant women and couples who were tested positive for HIV are receiving free medication, regardless of the CD4 count.