Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Stats that made my eyebrows raise

The latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine has an interesting free article about when to start antiretroviral therapy that has some startling numbers.

The results are striking. Among the 8362 patients with a CD4+ count of 351 to 500 cells per cubic millimeter, deferral of therapy until the CD4+ count had fallen to 350 cells or less was associated with an increase of 69% in the risk of death, as compared with patients who initiated therapy when their CD4+ count was within the designated range. Similarly, among the 9155 patients with a CD4+ count of more than 500 cells per cubic millimeter, deferral of therapy until the CD4+ count fell below 500 cells was associated with a significantly increased risk of death of 94%.
That's astonishing. Earlier the article says "Currently, these guidelines state that the optimal time to start therapy for an asymptomatic patient with a CD4+ count of more than 350 cells per cubic millimeter is unknown."

This is information that patients need to know and discuss with their HIV doctors.

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