Get on your HIV meds ASAP after diagnosis

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People who start taking HIV drug cocktails earlier are so remarkably less likely to die than those who waited that the feds shut down a study of it this week because results were so obvious.

While going on meds is a personal decision, and debate about finances, emotional stress and other factors that go into it rages on, making the call on whether to start taking the meds that keep HIV in check may have just become easier for some poz guys, according to the study sponsored and halted by National Institute for Allergy & Infectious Disease.

The study was stopped more than a year early because preliminary data already showed that those who got treatment immediately were 53 percent less likely to die during the trial or develop AIDS or a serious illness than those who waited.

Long considered the AIDS Czar in the U.S., NIAID director Anthony Fauci made the announcement and urged HIV-positive people to heed the results: “The sooner, the better,” he told the New York Times.

In the United States, only about 450,000 of the estimated 1.2 million with H.I.V. are on treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. …

Although the C.D.C. recommends immediate treatment, it said in November that only 37 percent of infected Americans had prescriptions for the drugs. The agency blamed a mix of factors, including H.I.V.-positive people missed by testing, those who had no health insurance and therefore did not see doctors or could not afford the drugs, and those whose doctors were unfamiliar with treatment guidelines.

Put the latest numbers and advice from the feds with other recent studies supporting the idea that until there’s a cure, meds save lives. Positive guys on anti-retroviral treatments have also shown to be 90 percent less likely to pass the disease to someone else, and of course the PrEP version helped 86 percent of HIV-negative guys stay that way, too.

Wherever you fall between the “take meds now or don’t take them until you’re sick” camps, the latest numbers represent another tool in your gay knowledge tool belt. And you can use it: Only 3 in 10 poz guys have the virus in check, half of gay poz men aren’t being treated for HIV at all, nearly half of gay and bisexual men under 35 aren’t even getting tested, and HIV is still on the rise among gay men of any age.

[New York Times]

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