Yesterday the U.S. National Institutes of Health announced the early termination of a trial (START-Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment) looking at early treatment of HIV at diagnosis due to clear benefits seen in the study. They recommended patients who learn they are HIV positive should immediately be put on antiretroviral therapy as their study shows a significant survival benefit. The START trial showed that the risk of death or serious illness in patients randomized to early treatment was reduced by 53%. The findings are expected to impact global guidlines regarding HIV treatment. Current W.H.O guidelines recommend treating at CD4 of 500, but acknowledged that treatment at CD4 count of 350 was more practical in many poor countries. They are expected to release updated guidelines very soon. Of note, the CDC recommends immediate treatment at diagnosis of HIV but estimated that 37% of Americans with HIV actually have prescriptions for antiretroviral therapy. Check out the link below from the NIH that summarizes their announcement!
(photo from Susan Sterner/Associated Press)