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  • 7/20/2010

HIV: Start treatment earlier, says panel


A major expert panel recommended ahead of the start of the world AIDS conference on Sunday that patients with HIV start antiretroviral drugs at an earlier stage of infection.

Earlier initiation of the famous combination of drugs that repress the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can reduce long-term mortality and sickness, the group said.

International guidelines set down in 2006 by the UN's World Health Organization (WHO) advised doctors to begin therapy when the patient's count of CD4 cells -- the key immune cells targeted by HIV -- reaches 200 cells or less per microlitre of blood.

This figure was raised by the WHO last year to 350 CD4 cells per microlitre of blood, but may still be too cautious, the panel implies.

It set out its recommendations in a paper published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) hours before the start of the six-day 18th International AIDS Conference.

The group suggested that infected individuals be treated when they reached a threshold of 500 CD4 cells per microlitre or below, whether they have symptoms of AIDS or not.

Therapy ""should be considered"" for non-symptomatic patients with more than 500 cells per microlitre, it said, adding: ""There is no CD4 cell count threshold at which initiating therapy is contra-indicated,"" or inadvisable.

Therapy is also recommended for patients who are pregnant, older than 60, are co-infected by hepatitis B or C and at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

Source: tehrantimes.com

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