According to research conducted in China and published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, people with a high T cell count who start antiretroviral therapy immediately after an HIV diagnoses cut their one year mortality risk be nearly two-thirds.
After studying over 35,000 newly diagnosed cases between 2012 and 2014, it was discovered that people who started ART within 30 days of their diagnoses had a 63 percent reduction in their mortality risk compared to people who started treatment after 30 days, reports AIDS Map.
While those who were treated after 30 days also saw a reduced mortality, it wasn’t nearly as drastic — 26 percent, compared to 63 percent.
It’s been recommended by the World Health Organization since 2015 that people diagnosed with HIV should immediately begin ARV, regardless of how many healthy T cells remain in their immune system.
“Our results demonstrate that PLWH [people living with HIV] with a CD4 cell count > 500 cells/mm3 who initiated ART within 30 days of diagnosis…experienced a 63% decrease in mortality,” write the investigators of the study. “Additional risk factors for mortality in this study were older age, being male, having lesser education, and becoming infected via injection drug use or heterosexual contact.”
Most of the people that were studied were in their early- to mid-thirties, while 75 percent of them were male and 25 percent were female. Additionally, 64 percent had a primary education or less, 39 percent were married, and 60 percent contracted HIV through heterosexual sex.
Researchers add that they saw 19 deaths from the group of people who had immediate treatment, and that three-quarters of those deaths were attributed to non-AIDS-related causes — the most common being cardiovascular disease.
Separate studies have shown that HIV poses the same risk for cardiovascular disease as diabetes.
“In addition to the direct benefit of ART for survival, it is also likely that regular follow up and comprehensive care services associated with ART use contributed to the decreased mortality observed,” suggest the investigators. “After ART initiation, patients entered into the stable care system and received multidisciplinary services including regular medical visits as well as psychosocial support.”