WEDNESDAY, Sept. 5, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- The percentage of HIV-infected people in the United States receiving highly active retroviral therapy has increased since 2000, according to a new study.
The researchers also found that people with HIV appear to be less infectious and have healthier immune systems at death.
Researchers looked at national data on 45,000 people receiving clinical care for infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Between 2000 and 2008, the proportion of HIV-infected people prescribed highly active retroviral therapy increased nine percentage points to 83 percent.
During that time, there was an increase in viral load suppression among HIV patients. Suppression of viral load reduces the likelihood of transmitting HIV to others. Among patients taking highly active retroviral therapy, the proportion with suppressed viral load increased from 54 percent to 81 percent between 2000 and 2008.
The researchers also found an increase in median CD4 immune cell count among patients who died from HIV. A higher CD4 count suggests a healthier immune system.
The study, published in the Sept. 4 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, was led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore.
The findings are "good news for the HIV epidemic in the U.S., but there is room for improvement," lead author Keri Althoff, an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School's department of epidemiology, said in a school news release. "We need to continue to focus on linking HIV-infected adults into care and effective treatment, not only for the individual's health, but to reduce the likelihood of transmission to others."
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about HIV/AIDS.