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Start HAART Immediately Upon Diagnosis - San Francisco To Unveil New Public Health Policy for HIV/AIDS Treatment
  Monday, April 05, 2010
Next week, San Francisco's Department of Public Health is expected to release new guidelines that call for HIV-positive patients to begin taking antiretroviral drugs as soon as they are diagnosed, the New York Times reports.
Previous guidelines directed physicians to delay antiretroviral treatment, partly because of the drugs' side effects.
The new policy follows a growing body of evidence that early HIV treatment initiation can help patients live longer and decrease their likelihood of experiencing health complications such as cancer, heart disease or kidney failure.
Under the new guidelines, people who test positive for HIV will be offered combination antiretroviral therapy with advice to adhere to the treatment, although the decision ultimately will be left to the patient.
Possible Costs
It is unclear how much the new program will cost city and state health agencies. Antiretroviral drugs currently cost about $12,000 per year and account for about $350 million of the California AIDS Drug Assistance Plan's budget.
Some factors that could contribute to the cost of the program include:
* The number of patients who choose to participate;
* How close the patients were to needing treatment under the old program; and
* Whether the patients are covered by private insurance.
Michelle Roland, chief of the state's Office of AIDS, said her office is working with CDC to estimate the additional cost of early treatment (Russell, New York Times, 4/2).
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