May 19, 2004
According to a recent Danish study, the mortality rate of HIV infected individuals who commence to receive antiviral treatment while their immune systems are still strong is approximately 3.5 times higher than in the general population (but 15 times higher if the treatment is postponed until the immune system is severely damaged).
I don't understand why the mortality rate of someone who's immune system is being kept strong would have a mortality rate 3.5 higher than the rest of the population??? Is it because some patients develop resistance, thereby leading to an average mortality rate of 3.5 times the normal?
Response from Dr. Conway
Without all the specifics of the study that you quote, it is unlikely that we have such information in patients who only received the current highly effective HAART regimens.
In the past, older pre-HAART and early HAART regimens had limited long-term benefit. They reduced mortality, but not to the levels seen in the general population. In that setting, starting earlier maximized the temporary benefit of this approach.
Today, it may be that people who begin on HAART before developing symptoms of HIV infection or AIDS will have the same mortality rate as the general population. We will know this in 20 years or so...
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