Treating HIV-Infected Infants Early Helps Them Live Longer
When it comes to treating infants infected with HIV, earlier is better than later. That's what's been learned from the initial results of an ongoing clinical trial in South Africa sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Schmalfeldt: When it comes to treating infants infected with HIV, earlier is better than later. That's what's been learned from the initial results of an ongoing clinical trial in South Africa sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, which showed that more HIV-infected infants survive if they are given therapy early on, regardless of their apparent state of health. NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci explains.
Fauci: Children were looked with regard to what the most appropriate time to treat them is, vis a vis the long range positive or negative effect. And groups of children were treated sooner rather than later. And another group was treated only when the CD4 count dropped to a certain level indicating that there was clear cut progression of disease. So, the fundamental principle is either treat early before you get evidence of deterioration, or wait until you start to see evidence of deterioration. And those two components of the study were compared. And at the end of the study it became very, very clear that the children who were treated earlier did far better than those that were not treated until it was very clear that they needed to be treated. So the thinking now is leaning much more towards earlier treatment of children for the long term benefits of that.
Schmalfeldt: This finding came to light after a routine review by the trial's data and safety monitoring board—an independent committee that regularly reviews interim data from the study to ensure the safety of participants. As a result of these preliminary findings, Dr. Fauci said all children in the study will now be treated sooner, rather than waiting to see if they show signs of deterioration.
Fauci: The data was so powerful to indicate that the children who were treated earlier as opposed to delayed did so much better, it would have been unethical to continue the limb of the study to delay treatment in other children.
Schmalfeldt: For more information, log on to www.niaid.nih.gov. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Bill Schmalfeldt in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Bill Schmalfeldt
Sound Bite: Dr. Anthony S. Fauci