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Optimum Timing for HIV/AIDS Prognosis

A new study shows the best time to make a prognosis for someone with HIV is six months after treatment begins. Researchers find cell counts //at that time give a more accurate picture of a person’s prognosis than when they are originally diagnosed with HIV.

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is a common treatment for HIV patients. HAART has improved the prognosis of HIV patients, however there is not a lot of information on how to predict the prognosis of each patient. Researchers in Switzerland conducted a study looking at HIV patients who had received HAART. The study analyzed the patients’ cell counts and followed how well they fared.

Results showed patients with higher CD4 counts had lower risks of AIDS or death six months after starting HAART than patients with low CD4 counts. They also found lower viral load indicated a better prognosis. However, study authors say the measurements of the CD4 cells and the viral load at the beginning of therapy was not indicative of prognosis.

Study author Matthias Egger from the University of Bern says, "At six months after starting HAART, the current CD4 cell count and viral load, but not the values before the start of therapy, are strongly associated with subsequent disease progression. Our findings should inform guidelines on when to modify HAART in this group of patients who had not previously received antiretroviral therapy."

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