Paris: A landmark five-year trial has strengthened evidence that early use of antiretroviral drugs helps children combat the AIDS virus, doctors reported today. Conducted in South Africa, the so-called CHER trial made history in 2007, after only two years, when it discovered that early treatment slashed the risk of disease and death from AIDS by 75 percent. The astonishing finding prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to overhaul its treatment guidelines in 2010 for youngsters with the AIDS virus. The WHO recommended that antiretroviral therapy be started immediately when HIV is diagnosed in children less than a year old, rather than wait until a threshold of virus infection is reached. Now completed, the CHER trial takes early-use-is-good a step further, according to results reported in The Lancet. Children who began an immediate course of drugs were able to interrupt their treatment, giving them a break from the powerful, potentially toxic drugs, researchers found. Yet even with this interruption, the infants did far better than those who started treatment later.
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