Early HIV Drug Therapy Effective For Patients

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(IN PHOTO)About 2880 candles are seen lit during a World AIDS Day event in Jakarta December 1, 2009. Fifty million women in Asia are at risk of being infected with HIV because of the risky sexual behaviour of their husbands or boyfriends, a report released by UNAIDS said in August. REUTERS

Once diagnosed, the HIV patient should not delay the treatment, indicates a new international study. The scientists believe that the sooner the anti-retroviral treatment is administered, the better it is for the patients to avoid the manifestation of full-blown AIDS. Latest figures estimate that about 35 million people are infected with HIV worldwide, while only 13 million people get timely treatment. The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a lentivirus that causes HIV infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, in humans.

It is a progressive condition which is a result of weekend immune system, allowing the clinical manifestation of life-threatening secondary infections like tuberculosis and cancer. On failure to receive timely treatment, the average survival time after the HIV infection is estimated to be 9 to 11 years. The transmission of the HIV infection occurs through contaminated blood, seminal fluid, vaginal fluid, breast milk or even pre-ejaculate.

A major international clinical trial, the Start or Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment, was supposed to end in 2016 but was stopped in between because it had gathered sufficient evidence that HIV-infected people on early anti-retroviral treatment fared better. Also, their CD4 seem to be above 500 rather than 350, a prerequisite, according to the current guidelines issued in the UK and many other countries. The clinical trial involved more than 4,600 people and was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Anthony S Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, UK, says, “We now have clear-cut proof that it is of significantly greater health benefit to an HIV-infected person to start antiretroviral therapy sooner rather than later, Moreover, early therapy conveys a double benefit, not only improving the health of individuals but at the same time, by lowering their viral load, reducing the risk they will transmit HIV to others. These findings have global implications for the treatment of HIV." 

Fauci also added that the study findings will have "global implications," but will have a lesser impact in countries which are clinically well since the individuals affected with HIV can be diagnosed early and can begin their therapy more common for HIV-infected people to be diagnosed early and begin their therapy soon after that.

To contact the writer, email:ruchira.dhoke@gmail.com

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