Hong Kong: How quickly an HIV patient`s immune system deteriorates may not affect the outcome of the illness, a study has found, and this could help change current guidelines for treatment of the disease.There is no cure for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS, but combinations of drugs can keep the virus from replicating and damaging the immune system.Doctors normally do not start treatment until there is some evidence of damage to this system, measured by counting the number of immune cells, called CD4 T-cells.In developed countries, HIV treatment usually begins when CD4 numbers drop below 350 cells per microlitre of blood.
They found no significant differences in their progression to AIDS or the number of deaths."The current rate of CD4 cell decline is neither a strong predictor of whether a person is progressing to AIDS or dies, nor does it predict future CD4 cell decline," he said. "Therefore, it shouldn`t guide clinical decisions, in particular the decision whether to initiate (drug) therapy or not."A further implication of our study is that the patient`s CD4 cell count should be monitored regularly regardless of the prior rate of CD4 decline and that should be done according to current guidelines, i.e. every three to six months."Bureau Report