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Article in journal Nature

Oct 3, 2000

The publication in the recent journal Nature offers much hope. People that were identified as HIV positive very early, at or before seroconversion, were immediatly placed on HAART. Then after several months, when the viral load decreased to at or below detectable limits, the patients were taken off drugs. About half the patients have remained off of drugs for 10+ months and the viral load is still virtually undetectable. This leads to the belief that the immune system may indeed be able to fight off the virus if the virus does not get it first. Now this leads me to my question. Should more extreme testing measures be used to Identify HIV infection earlier such as PCR methods to insure that the immune system will get its time to learn of the infection and mount an attack? I think this study strongly infers that this may be needed.

Response from Mr. Kull

Thanks for the information on this article. You present an important argument for early testing and intervention. This does not mean that people should be running out for PCR tests every time they have unprotected sex. They are expensive, time-consuming tests that need to be reserved for people at significant risk (people in high risk groups or those who have an exposure to someone who is known or strongly suspected to be positive).

This one study does not in any way confirm that early treatment does have long term benefit (this is one study among a small sample). More research is needed.


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