Saving Lives With “Test and Treat” Strategy for HIV-Infected Individuals
Antiretroviral Therapies have proven to help those who are HIV positive to enjoy a happy and full life. Those receiving treatment can have relatively normal lifespans. Decades of research and testing has made this outcome possible. Yet, there are many worldwide who are infected but who do not receive regular care or treatment. This causes a rise in mortality and poorer quality of life. So, in an effort to reach out and ensure that everyone is tested and treated without some falling through the cracks, a program was instituted in one region that had promising results as a HIV treatment as prevention approach.
A ‘test and treat’ method was applied to one area where HIV care was lacking. Program goals were to make testing and treatment simpler and faster while at the same time reducing the time between testing and therapy. Participants were tested for HIV along with a CD4 count and received results during the same visit. Included in that initial visit were both counseling prior to treatment and eligibility for antiretroviral therapy.
Faster Treatment Saves Lives
The time between HIV infection confirmation and the beginning of a patient’s therapy was greatly reduced – down to around five days – where previously it hovered at almost two months. Due to the efficient manner in which these cases were handled, the numbers showed that more patients received their treatments and followed through. Even better was how drastically the mortality numbers fell. One estimate puts the mortality rate at 13%, where before it was nearly 40%. When the program started little information had been gathered on the HIV positive population. This made it a bit more challenging to determine just how successful the test and treat method was. Undeniably, however, it met with great results that instill confidence in this type of streamlined care.
The success of this program highlights the need to implement HIV treatment as prevention in other areas. Some revision may need to take place so that it fits the needs of the region. Another matter meriting consideration is the cost. Researchers figured that for each patient who survived, the cost was US$235. This basically covered the first year of treatments and intervention. So from a financial standpoint, the cost is minimal compared with the outcome, making the program one that is feasible just about anywhere.