September 8, 2001

U.K. announces more conservative HIV treatment guidelines

from the Advocate

The British HIV Association on Thursday formally announced new HIV treatment guidelines that call for an even longer wait before drug therapy begins.

The finalized guidelines, which were approved after a three-month review period, recommend that highly active antiretroviral therapy be started in all patients with T-cell counts below 200. HAART should be initiated in HIV-positive patients with T-cell counts between 200 and 350 only when T-cell counts are "falling rapidly" or opportunistic infections are present, according to the guidelines. Drug therapy should not be given to any patients with more than 350 T cells. The previous U.K. guidelines called for HAART to begin in all patients with T-cell counts below 350.

The changes come just seven months after U.S. guidelines were revised to recommend that HAART be given to HIV-positive patients who have T-cell counts below 350 or if blood-based viral loads reach 30,000 or 55,000 copies regardless of T-cell count, depending on the testing method.