Revised HIV Treatment Guidelines
4/2/2012 5:00:00 PM
By Alex Garner
Deciding when to start antiretroviral medication is often a complex decision made by a patient and their doctor. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides guidelines to help facilitate this important decision. These guidelines have recently been revised and it’s important that people with HIV understand what these new guidelines mean and discuss them with their doctor.
The new guidelines now recommend that all HIV infected individuals go on antiretroviral medications. However, if you look closely, the strength of those recommendations changes based on the level of one’s CD4 count. It’s essential to thoroughly read and understand all the information, know your medical history and discuss your options with you doctor.
The guideline revisions are of particular importance to older people living with HIV. If you are HIV positive and over 50 it’s now recommended that you begin treatment, regardless of the level of your CD4s.
Here’s one of the key considerations for people with HIV over 50:
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is recommended in patients >50 years of age, regardless of CD4 cell count, because the risk of non-AIDS related complications may increase and the immunologic response to ART may be reduced in older HIV-infected patients.
Deciding to go on or stay on antiretroviral medications is a significant decision that can’t be taken lightly. The decision is ultimately that of the individual. No one should ever be coerced into taking medications. People should go on medications because they feel it’s the best thing they can do for their health. They should not be told to go on medications because a public heath department or a doctor decides that prevention is more important than a individual’s right to decide how best to treat the disease.
Knowing the recommendations and understanding your options, makes you a more empowered patient. This is yet another example of how knowledge is indeed power.
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