Earlier HIV treatment can save more lives

Moving up the starting point for HIV treatment leads to improved survival rates

10:22am, October 27, 2008

WASHINGTON — Treating HIV earlier can increase a patient’s survival chances, a new study of more than 8,000 HIV patients shows. The findings suggest doctors should rethink the standard practice of HIV treatment, a team reports at a meeting of microbiologists and infectious disease researchers.

HIV depletes key immune cells called CD4 T cells. A patient’s T cell count, the concentration of CD4 cells still in circulation, is used to gauge how far the virus that causes AIDS has progressed and to determine when to treat a patient with the frontline drug cocktail for HIV. The standard benchmark for initiating this treatment has been a T cell count of 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood.

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