Early ART therapy proves to have many benefits
Experts suggest that the earlier the intervention begins, the more likely that treatment can slow the progression of the condition. In addition, a study released in July 2012 by the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) discusses further benefits of early ART and how it can delay or prevent the onset of AIDS, tuberculosis and even death.
"These new findings provide further confirmation of the health benefits of early antiretroviral therapy," said Myron Cohen, M.D., co-principal investigator of HPTN. "The combined prevention and treatment benefits of antiretroviral therapy make broader testing and treatment urgent and imperative."
ART may reduce rate of transmission and likelihood of other HIV-related events
The collected data from the study revealed to researchers that early ART can reduce HIV transmission by 96 percent in couples in which one partner is infected with HIV and the other is not. This finding has caused the World Health Organization to review its guidelines for treating the infection.
The HPTN study is ongoing. Between 2005 and 2010, researchers observed approximately 1,750 couples at multiple sites around the globe. In addition to ART therapy and primary care, participants received counseling, free condoms, testing and treatment for STDs. All individuals in the study will be followed until mid-2015 for further research purposes.
Currently, there are more than 30 ART drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for HIV treatment, all of which fall into one of five classes, as reported by the HHS. For example, physicians may prescribe affected patients with three different ART drugs from two separate classes. This approach protects the individual from becoming resistant to the medications, which can be detrimental to the treatment process.