A study involving teens infected with HIV has shown that the earlier treatment starts, the better longer term results are achieved. In fact, early infancy is not too soon for antiretroviral treatment to begin. Research has revealed that when treatment begins in early infancy, stores of HIV can’t be built up in the body. It is important to prevent these stores from occurring because they are responsible for fast progression of the disease should there be a break in treatment.

Nine teenagers were involved in the study. Five began antiretroviral treatments at just two months of age, while the other four were older when their treatments began. Blood tests revealed that the virus was not as able to reproduce successfully within the five teens who started treatment at a younger age. Also, no stores for the disease were found in them, whereas detectable stores were found in the other four teens who had started treatment later. The teens who started treatment early also had more HIV-specific antibodies.

This study comes in the wake of an infant whose HIV appears to be in full remission after starting treatment just 30 hours out of the womb. This builds a strong case for starting treatment as early as possible for children born with HIV. Obviously the ultimate goal for researchers is to develop therapies that will keep children from getting the disease from their mother in the first place, and further research continues in this regard.

In lieu of such a treatment, researchers are looking to investigate further the long-term suppression of HIV by introducing antiretroviral treatments in the first three months of life. It’s looking ever more likely that the rule of thumb will become “the sooner the better”.