Media Release – Immediate HIV Treatment benefits PLHIV
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Immediate HIV treatment gives greatest benefit

24 November 2015

In the lead up to World AIDS Day 2015, Positive Life NSW (PLNSW) is reminding people living with HIV of the benefits of starting anti-retroviral therapy (ART) immediately after diagnosis or, if not currently receiving treatment, of the importance of talking with their doctor about treatment options.

Revised guidelines released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in October, affirmed the removal by the Australian Government of prescribing restrictions for medicines to treat HIV and confirmed that the interests of people living with HIV are best served by starting treatment as soon as possible.

The WHO’s revised Guideline on When to Start Antiretroviral Therapy and on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV stated that ART should be initiated in all people (including adults, pregnant and breastfeeding women, adolescents and children) living with HIV at any CD4 count. The guidelines were based on evidence from studies released since 2013, which showed earlier use of ART resulted in better clinical outcomes for people living with HIV compared to delayed treatment.

“In Australia, the Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment (START) study established that the best health outcomes for people living with HIV are achieved by starting treatment immediately on diagnosis. In October 2015, the WHO confirmed those findings,” PLNSW Policy Advisor Lance Feeney said.

“We’ve known for some time that HIV is doing damage from the time you contract HIV and now the evidence is clear and compelling – if you are diagnosed with HIV, get on treatment immediately.

“For those people living with HIV not currently receiving treatment, eventually you’ll need to make the treatment decision and there seems little benefit in waiting.

“Treatment commencement as soon as possible is recommended as the best course of action for people living with HIV, not only for their own health, but also to prevent the transmission of HIV to their sexual partners,” he said.

As well as revising the WHO’s position on when to start ART, the guidelines also reinforced the importance of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) being available to all people at risk of contracting HIV. The revision was based on studies which confirmed the effectiveness of PrEP.

Lance Feeney – 0423 477 254 or email
Positive Life NSW is a NSW-wide community based HIV advocacy and support not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation. We work to promote a positive image of people living with HIV and aim to eliminating prejudice, isolation, stigma and discrimination. We provide information and referrals, and advocate for the needs and rights of PLHIV in NSW.
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