, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 60-68,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 11 Apr 2010

When to Start Antiretroviral Therapy

Abstract

The question of when to start combination antiretroviral therapy for treatment-naïve patients has always been controversial. This is particularly true in the current era, with major guidelines recommending very different treatment strategies. Despite a lack of clarity regarding the optimal time to begin therapy, there has been a recent shift toward earlier initiation. This more aggressive approach is driven by several observations. First, effective viral suppression with therapy can prevent non-AIDS-related morbidity and mortality. Second, therapy can prevent irreversible harm to the human immune system. Third, therapy may prevent transmission of HIV to others, and thus have a potential public health benefit. For patients who are motivated and willing to initiate early treatment, the collective benefits of early therapy may outweigh the well-documented risks of antiretroviral medications.