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Begin HIV Treatment Immediately Upon Diagnosis, U.S. Health Officials Say

Begin HIV Treatment Immediately Upon Diagnosis, U.S. Health Officials Say


New guidelines follow the publication of the largest clinical study on HIV ever conducted.

Federal health officials have recommended that treatment for HIV begin immediately upon diagnosis, the New York Times reports. The news follows the publication of 'Start' (Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment), the largest clinical trial to date on the effectiveness of antiretroviral drugs.

Initiated in 2009, the 'Start' trial followed 4,685 HIV-infected men and women in 35 countries. Findings were so clear that health officials halted the research more than a year before its expected end date. Below, some highlights:

"The study is strong evidence that putting more people on treatment and doing it earlier would save more lives, the officials said. An estimated 35 million people are infected with H.I.V. around the world, and only about 13 million were on treatment as of early 2014."

"Immediate treatment greatly benefits patients and prevents them from passing the disease on. Several other studies have shown that people taking their drugs regularly are more than 90 percent less likely to infect others, including spouses with whom they have regular unprotected sex."

"In the United States, some doctors are swayed by patients' reluctance to start drugs before they have symptoms because many patients fear side effects. The early antiretroviral drugs prescribed in the 1990s often had harsh side effects, including rashes, accumulation of belly fat and loss of feeling in the fingers and feet. But modern regimens usually do not. Many AIDS experts have expressed frustration that doctors have not pushed their patients harder to start the drugs right away."

Read the full article on the New York Times.

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