Starting HIV therapy early stalls death, AIDS-related events

By Gene Emery NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – For people infected with HIV, starting therapy before AIDS symptoms appear or before levels of a certain kind of white blood cell fall below a specific threshold can dramatically delay the development of AIDS-related events and death, according to two studies released by the New England Journal of Medicine. Until now, evidence on when to begin the treatment of asymptomatic patients has not been clear, and there’s been concern that giving antiretroviral therapy earlier might increase patients’ risk of cardiovascular and renal disease. “It has been controversial for two decades over whether to start treatment” when levels of so-called CD4-positive white blood cells are above 350 cells per cubic millimeter, the coauthor of the larger of the two studies, Dr. Jens Lundgren of Rigshospitalet at the University of Copenhagen, told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.
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