29-May-15 6:00 AM  CST

HIV Meds Need To Be Started Upon DIagnosis

Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV was the headline of the day in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Barely a week would go buy where the monstrous virus did not make the evening news. Books, television and even Hollywood became an outlet for creating awareness about the virus. As a result people began to understand the virus a little bit more and researchers made a mad dash to creating treatments that would at least make the virus manageable.

In 2015 awareness about HIV is still present, but the advocacy for awareness and a cure has become much quieter, leaving some to believe HIV is no longer a crisis. However, this could be no further from the truth. The HIV virus is very much alive and a new study conducted by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) proves that treatment of the virus should begin much, much earlier than initial believed.

HIV is an immune system disease, meaning the same system the body uses to protect itself is actually attacking itself. Patients that have been diagnosed with HIV will retain the virus in their bodies for the rest of their lives. There is no cure for HIV, but there are therapies that keep the virus from replicating. Antiretroviral Therapy or ART allows the body to produce more cells to fight infection, because they stop the virus’s ability to replicate in the body. Antiretroviral therapies, along with increased awareness, have been one of the single greatest tools against HIV, but the therapies can be exhaustive in cost.

Antiretroviral therapies for HIV are often started only after the symptoms from the virus have become pronounced, but this way of treating HIV is being contradicted. Facts connected to the study sponsored by NIAID provide proof that starting antiretroviral therapy upon diagnosis of HIV does substantially more to save lives and ultimately, brings the virus under a manageable state before it has devastated the body. This week the CDC came out in support of beginning antiretroviral therapy at the onset of diagnosis, and many other health organizations are agreeing.

There are 35 million people worldwide who have been diagnosed with HIV, but only 14 million of those people are on an antiretroviral treatment. In the United States the statistics are worse with only 450,000 of the nearly 1.2 million diagnosed with the disease on any type of antiretroviral therapy. The study showed that 53% of those who began antiretroviral therapy immediately lived longer or had a significantly decreased risk for developing further infection or AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The study was so conclusive that researchers stopped their studies more than a year ahead of schedule.

Antiretroviral therapies have come a long way since the approval of the first drugs. Countless lives have been saved; because of these therapies and now with the news from this latest study countless more may be saved.


AIDSinfo.org, (2015), “HIV Treatment: When To Start Antiretroviral Therapy?”, https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/education-materials/fact-sheets/21/52/when-to-start-antiretroviral-therapy, retrieved, 29. May 2015

McNeil, D., (2015), “ HIV Treatment Should At Diagnosis, US Health Officials Say”, New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/28/health/hiv-treatment-should-start-with-diagnosis-us-health-officials-say.html?ref=health, retrieved, 29. May 2015

For additional information on this article, please contact:
Sandra Andrews
(717) 360-1159
Source: Sandy Andrews  

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