Early HIV Treatment Benefits: If you are diagnosed for HIV infection and it turns out you are HIV infected, the first advice is DO NOT PANIC. HIV is not life threatening itself but it is a lifelong disease because you cannot cure HIV at least with the currently available medication. Maybe, in future scientist will be able to develop a cure for HIV. Till then, we must understand that HIV can progress to its last stage AIDS which is definitely life threatening situation. So, you have to control HIV in your body by taking the right medication at the right time.
Why HIV treatment?
HIV is not a disease in itself but its virus attacks and kills CD4 or T-cells which ultimately leads to weakening your immunity system. If left unchecked without medication, this virus multiplied itself in your body. You may not feel sick at first but because of weakened immunity system, many opportunistic diseases cause you sickness and ultimately death.
HIV treatment is recommended by world health organization HIV treatment guidelines when CD4+ cells or T-cells count falls to 500 cells/mm3. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends starting treatment when CD4+ cells count fall below 350 cells/mm3. However, a new study START offers concrete scientific evidence that if you start taking antiretroviral medication early, irrespective of your count of T-cells then HIV infected person have very low risk of HIV progressing into AIDS. It also lowers risk of HIV transmission.
If you are infected from HIV then you should do these two tests regularly: –
- CD4 test – which tells you about the count of CD4 cells in your body.
- Viral load test – which tells you about the count of viruses in your body.
By these tests, you can keep a check on HIV status in your body. Earlier, there was a confusion on when to start medication but as mentioned this study shows that instead on waiting till T-cell count drops to the lower level, if you take antiretroviral medication early when your immune system is healthy, your chances of good health improves by 50%.
What is START?
START stands for Strategic Timing of Anti-Retroviral Treatment which is the first large-scale randomized clinical trial designed to provide answers concerning early HIV treatments. It is an ongoing study but initial results with evidence released by START shows that taking early medication of antiretroviral actually benefits HIV patients. START is conducted in thirty countries and 4000 HIV-infected people are involved in this trial. These people have T cell count of 500 cells/mm3 and they never taken any medication before. Few randomly selected people in this group received immediate medication and others didn’t receive it until their T-cell count were less than 350 or an AIDS-related event occur. Study analyze on their T cell count and HIV symptoms.
This study also shows starting antiretroviral early prevents a combination of serious HIV-related outcomes such as AIDS-related cancer, non-AIDS cancer, renal and liver disease, major cardiovascular. Rates of both types of diseases are significantly decreased.
Never think like this
- My T-cell count is high, so I don’t need medication – Start medication as early as you can for early benefits
- If I am not sick. I don’t need treatment – You still need it, it will progress soon without medication
- If I exercise regularly, eat good food, take good care of myself. I don’t need treatment – Only medication can control HIV
- I can take irregular medication – Never do that, medicine will stop working and T cells goes down.
- I am taking medication so I cannot transmission HIV – You still can, apply all measures to prevent it
- I can’t afford medication so I won’t do it. – Many state/federal programs offer help. Contact local health facility
- Side effects of these medicines are very bad – Do not leave medicines because of side effects, it will make your condition worse
- Pregnant women can postpone treatment – Start it right now to prevent it from infecting your kid
It is always recommended that you must get tested one more time after your HIV test report comes out positive. This to ensure that the earlier report was correct. There is no cure available for HIV and HIV prevention is the only way to safeguard yourself from HIV infection.