Medicine News

US Health Officials Warn HIV Treatment Should Not Be Delayed

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a warning indicating people with HIV should be placed on antiretroviral drugs as soon as they become aware of their infection. A study on the matter, which came to a halt over a year ago, showed promising results for patients who received immediate treatment, as the study indicated that those who sought immediate treatment were 53 percent less likely to develop AIDS or die during the trial; in comparison to those who waited.

A report on the NY Times indicates that the study’s findings showed strong evidence indicating early treatment’s ability to save more lives. Unfortunately, fewer than 14 million people around the world are receiving the treatment, while the estimated number of people infected has reached 35 million. In the U.S. alone, about 1.2 million people are estimated to have HIV, but only about 450,000 receive treatment.

Although immediate treatment is recommended, only 37 percent of infected Americans have been prescribed the drugs. The main reasons behind the delay are believed to be the doctor’s unfamiliarity with treatment guidelines and a lack of health insurance covering those afflicted with the blood-borne virus such patients being either untested or simply unable to pay for the drugs.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, encourages people to seek out testing in order to begin therapy as soon as possible.

This is another incentive to seek out testing and start therapy early, because you will benefit. The sooner, the better.

The director of HIV prevention research at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Dr. Susan P. Buchbinder, was the first to recommend immediate treatment. Her recommendation was first issued back in 2010. As a result, new infections in San Francisco have dropped substantially. Based on the results, Buchbinder has stressed the importance of seeking immediate medical treatment.

The evidence for this has been building for quite some time, but now it’s clear that people should be offered treatment right away and told why it’s beneficial.

Whilst New York City has recommended the same approach since 2011, it has not reached the same scale of infections as seen in San Francisco, California. The primary reason for this has been attributed to San Francisco being a smaller city, resulting in more AIDS specialists working together and learning the same treatment protocols.

Dr. Demetre C. Daskalakis, the city health department’s assistant commissioner for HIV/AIDS prevention and control, emphasized the importance of the treatment for not only for individuals, but the overall public health as a whole.

With this study, we’ve answered the question definitively: Treat H.I.V. — it’s good for both personal and public health. The release of data from such a powerful source should erase any doubt.

Internationally, however, money is lacking when it comes to placing people on medications. It doesn’t just affect those who have yet to exhibit symptoms, as it also effects those who are already sick. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is struggling to raise money and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has been flat since 2010. The treatment for those with HIV amongst the world’s poor and middle-income countries would cost nearly $20 billion, but only $6.3 billion has been allocated.

According to the Australian Journal of Pharmacy, all of the study’s participants are to be informed of the results and offered treatment if they are not already taking it. The participants were enrolled at 215 sites across 35 countries. Researchers intend on following them through the upcoming stages.

The study is expected to conclude at some point in late 2016.

In other AIDS related coverage here at Immortal News, an aggressive HIV strain has been found in Cuba which rapidly progresses from HIV to AIDS.

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