A program in South Africa to rapidly provide HIV treatment showed a considerable edge over relying on the standard, more drawn-out treatment initiation system, Reuters Health reports. Publishing their findings in PLOS Medicine, researchers in the RapIt (Rapid Initiation of Treatment) trial studied a group of individuals at two Johannesburg clinics who were just diagnosed with HIV or who had received their first CD4 count determining them eligible for treatment.
The participants were randomized into two groups. A total of 187 people were provided rapid versions of required lab tests and individual counseling and put on antiretrovirals (ARVs) the day of enrollment in the study. Another 190 people underwent a standard six-visit process of starting treatment.
A month after enrolling in the study, 96 percent of those in the rapid treatment initiation group had started ARVs, compared with 58 percent of those in the standard treatment initiation arm. Three months after enrolling, 97 percent of those in the rapid treatment initiation group were on ARVs, compared with 72 percent in the other arm.
Eighty-one percent of those in the rapid treatment group were retained in care, defined as having made a clinic visit five to 10 months after entering the study, compared with 64 percent of those in the standard treatment initiation group.
To read the Reuters Health article, click here (free registration with Medscape is required).
To read the study, click here.