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Revised U.S. HIV Treatment Guidelines Include Minor Changes, Reassurance on Viral Load "Blips"

By Myles Helfand

January 10, 2011

In recent years, we in the HIV information world in the U.S. have taken to holding our breaths whenever a new version of the official U.S. HIV treatment guidelines is released. The last time the guidelines were updated, in December 2009, they altered some of the basic rules that health care professionals should follow regarding when a person should start HIV treatment and what HIV meds he or she should take.

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No such earth-shattering changes this time around. New guidelines were released this morning, and they include no major changes to "when to start" treatment or "what to start with." However, they do include a number of minor, but noteworthy, changes that could impact some aspects of HIVers' health care.

Officially called the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents (and often referred to in shorthand as "the DHHS guidelines"), this document is widely regarded as a bible of sorts for HIV health care providers. It's updated about once a year by a panel of some of the country's top HIV/AIDS doctors, researchers and community members.

This time around, the DHHS guidelines update focused more on subtle tweaks than big, game-changing adjustments. They include:

A more complete rundown of the changes to these guidelines is available on our site (courtesy of the DHHS), as is a PDF of the entire, 166-page guidelines document.

Myles Helfand is the editorial director of TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.

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