What are the benefits of ARVs and the risk of not taking ARVs?
What are the benefits of using ARVs and the risk of not taking ARVs?
Thanks, this is a good question.
The START study is one of the most important HIV studies from the last ten years. In 2015 START published its full results – much earlier than expected.
The study was designed to look at the benefits and risks of early HIV treatment (ART). Early treatment meant starting ART straight away rather than waiting till the CD4 count had gone down to 350. And in May 2015, results showed that ART has important benefits even for people with high CD4 counts.
Everyone entering the study had CD4 counts above 500. Then the study was split into two groups. One group started ART at CD4 counts above 500, and the other group started ART when CD4 counts had gone down to 350.
The main results are:
Early ART more than halved the risk of a serious illness.
The benefit of treatment was seen for all important sub groups. For example in older and younger people (above/below 35), in men and women, in people living in both high- and low-income countries, and in people with and without risk for other important illnesses.
START showed that early ART was also safe and effective.
You can find out more about START and its results here: