“All Adult HIV Patients Should Be Offered Antiretroviral Therapy”

From Science Daily:

Included in the 2012 International Antiviral Society-USA panel recommendations for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patient care is that all adult patients, regardless of CD4 cell count, should be offered antiretroviral therapy (ART), according to an article in the July 25 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on HIV/AIDS. Other new recommendations include changes in therapeutic options and modifications in the timing and choice of ART for patients with an opportunistic illness such as tuberculosis.

Melanie A. Thompson, M.D., of the AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta, presented the findings of the article at a JAMA media briefing at the International AIDS Conference.

Journal of the American Medical Association

Journal of the American Medical Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Since the first antiretroviral drug was approved 25 years ago, improvements in the potency, tolerability, simplicity, and availability of ART have resulted in dramatically reduced numbers of opportunistic diseases and deaths where ART is accessible,” according to background information in the article. “New trial data and drug regimens that have become available in the last 2 years warrant an update to guidelines for ART in HIV-infected adults in resource-rich settings.”

The benefit of suppressing the virus, in my opinion, is greater than the possible toxicity of medication and navigating possible side effects. We know that as long as HIV is in the body, unchecked, it’s doing damage. It’s more likely than possible that people who start antiretroviral therapy early will have less problems with secondary conditions (joint pain, arthritis, memory problems) as they progress in their lives. I think this is tremendous news.

Full Story Here.

Another Reason To Start HIV Treatment Sooner?

Science Daily is reporting on a study by UC San Francisco that indicates that the rate of infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) could be significantly reduced by treating HIV immediately upon diagnosis and expanding HIV testing:

If HIV-infected adults in San Francisco began taking antiretroviral treatments as soon as they were diagnosed, the rate of new HIV infections among men who have sex with men would be cut by almost 60 percent over five years….

The finding is published in the April 15, 2011 issue of Clinical Infections Diseases.

The decision of when to begin treatment with antiretroviral drugs is a subject of some debate, with the experts evenly split on whether to begin antiretroviral therapy immediately upon HIV diagnosis or waiting until a patient’s CD4 cell count drops below 500 cells per microliter….”Our clinicians recommended initiating antiretroviral therapy to all of our HIV positive patients based on our assessment that delaying treatment allows the virus to do damage to major organs systems and would lead to poorer outcomes for patients. It is too early to tell if this shift in treatment strategy last year by our clinic and the Department of Public Health has had any impact in preventing HIV infections,” said (study co-author) Havlir.

Starting retroviral treatment early makes sense- it reduces the risk of transmission significantly and probably keeps people healthy and alive longer. And isn’t that the point?

Read the full article here.

University of California – San Francisco (2011, April 13). HIV rate in San Francisco could be cut sharply with expanded treatment, study predicts. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 15, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110413093219.htm