how long to take medication
Mar 19, 2006
Hi, When you start medication , how long do you have to take it? For the rest of the life?
Response from Dr. Young
Thanks for your post.
The answer depends a lot on when (i.e, CD4 count) you start-- for those who start HAART with low CD4 counts (below 200), there'a much risk in stopping treatment-- this was recently shown in the results of the SMART clinical trial. This study showed that patients who stopped treatment with CD4 counts at or above 350 were at greater risk of complications than persons who stayed on continuous treatment.
For persons who start with "normal" CD4 counts (>350), the jury's still out-- what I tell my patients starting treatment is that they'll be on treatment for some time, probably years. I do believe that we will reach a point where we understand more about the safety of stopping medications in persons with higher CD4 counts. Until that time, the decision to stop medications is made on very individual circumstances, based on ability to adhere, side effects, costs and risk of complications.
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