As soon as someone is diagnosed with HIV, a new study suggests that they should start treatment. The study shows that the sooner you start treatment, the more likely you are to extend your life and to create a "manageable, chronic disease" situation. Delay treatment, and the study indicates that you can nearly double your risk of dying in the next few years (when compared to those who start treatment right away).
Based on this new study, several hundred thousand individuals currently not being treated for HIV, would be told to start therapy right away. About 56,300 people are newly diagnosed with HIV every year. The virus can ravage the T-cells in the infected person, compromising their immune defenses and making them extremely susceptible to a host of diseases. The drugs that can prevent this occurrence also have significant side effects like:
- heart and cholesterol complications
and once you are taking these powerful drugs, you can't stop or resistance develops and the drugs won't work (if you re-start the regimen). So it is a lifetime commitment.
Typically patients infected with HIV will be told by their physicians that they can wait until their T-cell counts fall below 350. But the new study shows that if you start therapy before your T-cell count falls, you will be more likely to restore the count close to normal. The study also showed that interrupting treatment for a treatment "holiday" can put these patients at grave risk. The studies suggest that patients are being put at risk with this "wait till you hit a level of 350 T-cell level before commencing treatment" approach.
Current treatment guidelines, which suggest starting any patient diagnosed with HIV who also is pregnant, has hepatitis, kidney disease or other serious chronic illnesses, on HIV treatment right away, was also confirmed by these studies.
Published On: October 28, 2008