The San Francisco-based HIV/AIDS advocacy group Project Inform has released a statement in response to recent criticism of two position papers it released on the topic of when to start HIV treatment.

Some of the criticism included blog posts titled “Medical Ethics and the Rights of People With HIV Under Assault” and “Project Inform’s Change of HAART” by Sean Strub, founder of POZ, and an article titled “START Wars” by Tim Horn, president and editor-in-chief of AIDSmeds.

Here’s an excerpt from the statement:

“Our April 13 paper made a recommendation to start treatment ‘before CD4 counts fall below 500,’ which is supported by updated federal guidelines. Based upon feedback that our word choice was ambiguous or misleading, and because it did not accurately reflect our true intent, we revised that language on May 4 to recommend starting treatment ‘if CD4 counts fall below 500.’ We also recommended consultation with a clinician before making a decision about whether to start treatment at that point…

“Project Inform recommended that a person with more than 500 CD4s begin treatment if they experience deterioration in key clinical markers and after consulting their doctor. Fifty percent of the federal guidelines panel favors starting treatment above 500. Project Inform’s May 3 revision changed the word begin to consider.

“This language change has been characterized as a complete reversal of our position. We do not view the change as a reversal. Given that data are less conclusive on this point, we feel it is better to encourage people with HIV to consider starting treatment above 500 than to begin treatment if their clinician does not support doing so. But once again, we support HIV-positive people’s right to decide when to start treatment.”

To read the complete statement, click here.