U.S. researchers said survival rates of HIV-positive patients can improve if they receive combination-drug treatment earlier than current guidelines recommend.
Researchers at The New York Academy of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University said highly active anti-retroviral, or HAART, therapy has been available since 1996 and is proven to reduce death and slow the progression of HIV into AIDS, but there has been longstanding debate over the best time to begin treatment.So they followed 583 HIV-positive adults and 920 HIV-negative adults from 1997 to 2000. All 1,503 participants were active injection drug users.They found patients that started HAART sooner than the guidelines recommended — when they were somewhat healthier — had better survival rates. After three years, the survival rates were similar among HIV-negative injection drug users and HIV-positive users who were on HAART therapy. Both groups had better survival rates than HIV-positive users who did not receive HAART. (Source: United Press, Sept 2004)