Solid Evidence Backing Early HIV Treatment Finally Arrives From START Trial

Solid Evidence Backing Early HIV Treatment Finally Arrives from START Trial

For the first time, a major clinical trial has found that starting antiretroviral treatment soon after HIV diagnosis reduces the risk of sickness and death when compared with delaying treatment until HIV disease progresses. Until now, only substandard research supported the U.S. treatment guidelines’ recommendation for immediate HIV treatment regardless of CD4 count. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the primary backer of the study, the findings support offering ARVs to everyone living with HIV.

Pills were prepared for H.I.V. patients in Thailand in February. A study found early treatment for people with H.I.V. cut down on the number of deaths.
Taylor Weidman/Getty Images

“We now have clear-cut proof that it is of significantly greater health benefit to an HIV-infected person to start antiretroviral therapy sooner rather than later,” NIAID director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, said in a press release. “Moreover, early therapy conveys a double benefit, not only improving the health of individuals but at the same time, by lowering their viral load, reducing the risk they will transmit HIV to others. These findings have global implications for the treatment of HIV.”


The randomized controlled Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment (START) trial included 4,685 treatment-naive HIV-positive adults …read more      

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