Danish HIV research could revolutionise treatment internationally

Study shows benefits of starting treatment early

Groundbreaking research by scientists at the University of Copenhagen could revolutionise guidelines for the treatment of HIV, reducing the risk of contracting AIDS and other serious illnesses. The results of the international study have been released ahead of schedule due to the enormity of their implications for HIV sufferers around the world.

Treatment: the sooner the better
Jens Lundgren, the head of the Centre for Health and Infectious Diseases at Copenhagen’s Rigshospitalet who is a clinical professor at the University of Copenhagen, said the study’s central message is that when it comes to the treatment of HIV, the sooner treatment begins, the better.

“If you receive treatment early, there is a significantly lower risk of contracting AIDS or another serious illness,” he said.

“In addition, early treatment can contribute to lowering the risk of transmitting HIV to others.”

Does away with guidelines
Until now international guidelines for the treatment of HIV have been that treatment should start when the count of CD4 cells, those with a type of glycoprotein on their surface, falls to 500 cells/µL or less.

Lundgren explained that the new study challenges the received wisdom of such recommendations.

“The study makes it clear that it pays to start the treatment of HIV early in the course of the HIV infection,” he said.

“Treatment should begin as soon as a person receives an HIV diagnosis. Our research does away with these guidelines and highlights that treatment should be deployed, even though the HIV-infected person is symptom-fee and regardless of their CD4 cell count.”

“We have reached a milepost in HIV research that will be of great importance for the global guidelines for treatment.

Lungren and his group are advocating for a change in the international guidelines for the treatment of HIV.

“We have a meeting with the WHO soon, where we will recommend them to change the international guidelines,” he said.