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Early HIV treatment can reduce death rates

June 29, 2009

Swiss scientists say they've determined early treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus reduces death rates in African countries.

Researchers led by University of Berne Professor Matthias Egger said they found mortality rates of people starting HIV treatment in four African countries approach those of the general population over time -- provided treatment is started before the immune system has been severely damaged.

In sub-Saharan Africa more than 2 million people with HIV now receive anti-retroviral treatment and mortality in HIV-infected patients who have access to that treatment is declining.

In the new study, Egger and colleagues investigated how mortality among HIV-infected people starting anti-retroviral treatment compares with non-HIV related mortality in Cote d'Ivoire, Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

The researchers said their findings indicate mortality among HIV-infected people during the first two years of treatment is higher than in the general population in the four sub-Saharan countries. However, for patients who start anti-retroviral treatment when they have no signs of advanced HIV disease, the excess mortality is moderate and similar to that associated with diabetes.

The research appears in the journal PLoS Medicine.

When HIV Positive Youths Need Treatment

June 16, 2009

A recent study led by researchers at John Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, Maryland has concluded that many HIV-infected youths either do not receive treatment or fail to get it in time to avoid risk of progressing to full-blown AIDS. The study investigated hundreds of HIV-infected youths in HIV clinics nationwide and found that 43 percent of the 656 who qualified for highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) failed to receive treatment following recommended guidelines. Criteria for recommended treatment include low CD4 count, high viral load, or a combination of these factors.

Teenagers and young adults have tended to be the hardest demographic group to treat due to low compliance with multidrug regimens and failure to attend follow-up appointments with treatment staff. The researchers urge front-line care workers to encourage better compliance with beginning and maintaining proper treatment. Center of Disease Control statistics indicate that 53,000 new HIV infections are diagnosed each year in the United States with 14 percent of those infections occurring in the 13 to 25-year old category.

Proper treatment remains vital to prevent medical complications, restore proper immune systems, and to reduce the risk of infecting others.


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