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Early ART ‘Vitally Important’ For All People Living With HIV

The new WHO HIV treatment guidelines, which advocate beginning antiretroviral therapy (ART) “when a person’s CD4 white blood cell count is relatively high,” “are a welcome step forward but fall short of the treatment goals that could and should be set,” a New York Times editorial states. “The missing ingredient is enough financing by international donors and many afflicted countries to make treatments widely available,” because “[t]he new guidelines will widen the gap” between those who are receiving treatment and those who are eligible but not yet receiving therapy, the editorial writes. “Ideally, virtually all people known to be infected should get drug treatments immediately, in a single pill, no matter what their CD4 counts,” the editorial states, adding, “That would greatly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others and prolong lives by preventing deterioration of the immune system.” Though “[a] vaccine would be surest way to prevent infection because a person would be protected for a substantial number of years, perhaps for a lifetime, without the need take antiviral drugs indefinitely,” “[e]arly drug treatments will remain vitally important for the foreseeable future,” the editorial concludes (7/24).