EARLY TREATMENT FOR HIV HALTS BRAIN DAMAGE, IMPROVES LIFE EXPECTANCY
MAY 20, 2019 @ 9.12 AM
We live in an era of renewed optimism for people living with HIV. Studies show that a person living with HIV has a similar life expectancy of a normal person, provided that they are diagnosed early, have good access to medical care and are able to adhere to their HIV treatment.
Early access to antiretroviral medication significantly improves life expectancy for people living with HIV and reduces onward transmission of HIV to an uninfected partner. People living with HIV on treatment who show sustained undetectable viral load have zero risk of transmitting the virus to an uninfected partner.
The main goal of HIV treatment is to fight the virus in your body. Managing the side effect of medication is also an integral part of the treatment, because side effects vary from person to person. Some barely experience it, for others, they get in the way of daily life but will eventually resolve as their body adjusts to the medication.
Nevertheless, the benefit of treatment far outweighs the side effects because medicine remains the only way for person living with HIV to manage the infection and lead a long, healthy live.
"We cannot emphasise enough the negative implications of untreated or poorly treated HIV on not just the individual's health but also that of their partner's. Because HIV requires lifelong treatment, it's important for people with HIV to be under close watch of their healthcare provider," said Professor Dato' Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Chairman of Malaysian AIDS Foundation.
Meanwhile, Serena Spudich, Professor of Neurology, Yale and co-senior author of the paper published in the journal 'Clinical Infectious Diseases' highlighted that damage to brain volume and corticol thickness progressively worsens soon after an individual’s initial infection with HIV until anti-retroviral treatment is started.
“We knew HIV could cause neurological damage, but we did not know it happened so early in the infection," she said, while again emphasizing the importance of identifying infected people early and treating them to halt its progression.
"Longer delays in treatment led to greater volume loss in the thalamus, caudate and cerebellum and to greater the cortical thinning in the frontal and temporal lobes, and cingulate cortex. Once combination retroviral treatment began, the volume changes in these regions stopped and cortical thickness increased slightly in the frontal and temporal lobe."
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