Assessing HIV Prognosis

Most accurate time may be 6 months after antiretroviral therapy starts, study says

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THURSDAY, Aug. 28, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The optimum point for making a prognosis for patients with HIV may be six months after they begin treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) rather than before the start of treatment.

That's the conclusion of a study in the Aug. 30 issue of The Lancet.

Swiss researchers analyzed 13 follow-up studies from Europe and North America that included more than 9,000 people receiving HAART (with a minimum of three drugs). Overall, 152 patients died and 874 developed AIDS.

The study found that patients with higher counts of specific immune response (CD4) cells had lower risks of AIDS or death six months after starting HAART than did patients with low CD4 counts. Patients with lower HIV viral load also had better prognoses.

But the study found that measurements of CD4 cells and viral load were not indicative of prognosis once the six-month assessment had been taken into account.

"Our findings should inform guidelines on when to modify HAART in this group of patients who had not previously received antiretroviral therapy," says researcher Matthias Egger of the University of Bern in a news release.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about HIV treatment.

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Aug. 28, 2003
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