WHY EARLY TREATMENT IS CRUCIAL
We want to ensure every guy has the best chance of living a healthy life.
If you are diagnosed with HIV, one of the first steps you should take is to start treatment as early as possible. Why? Well, we know that treatment keeps your immune system healthy and reduces the risk of developing health conditions associated with HIV.
Treatment can also lower the viral load of HIV in your blood to virtually undetectable levels, and research from three international studies, PARTNER, PARTNER2 and Opposites Attract show that HIV positive men who are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load (UVL) do not transmit HIV to their partners.
In the early days of HIV care when only a few treatments were available, people with HIV and their doctors would often delay treatment until someone’s CD4 count fell to around 200, basically, to a point where the immune system was very weak.
At the time, this was thought to be the best moment to start treatment because the only treatments available were known to cause side effects. But these days, anti-retroviral (ARV) treatments are more effective, are far better tolerated by the body and with many more to choose from you can find what’s best for you.
The most critical time to treat is right after diagnosis
Findings from the START study have shown that early, if not immediate, treatment increases health and life expectancy, and prevents serious illness including cancer, renal and liver disease by more than 50% compared to those who delay starting treatment. Importantly, the study results confirm that there is no harm associated with immediate treatment.
Further, in the early stages after contracting HIV your viral load is very high and that means you’re at greater risk of transmitting HIV. HIV is actually much more likely to be transmitted by people who don’t know they’ve got it – often, soon after they themselves have been infected.
So, if you’ve been diagnosed with HIV, early treatment will keep you healthy and your partners safe. Win-win.
Treat Early to End HIV
If you have been recently diagnosed with HIV, feel free to get in touch with us. ACON’s service for newly diagnosed gives you access to a trained counsellor, usually within one working day.
We’re committed to ending HIV by 2020, and by treating early, you are looking after your health, as well as helping to prevent HIV transmission.