Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - Page 3 News List

CDC highlights the importance of HIV treatment program

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Eighty percent of people with HIV who have been treated with medication have a viral load — a measure of the severity of a viral infection — so low that the virus can no longer be detected, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said.

The center’s data show that as of the end of last year, the number of people living with HIV in the nation was 20,438, of whom 12,345 are taking medication.

Of those patients who are taking drugs for the virus, 80 percent (9,725) have an undetectable blood viral load, the CDC said, whereas the remaining 20 percent have experienced deterioration of their conditions, a result probably caused by their failure to adhere to antiretroviral therapy.

According to related studies carried out abroad, HIV’s replication, producing approximately 1 billion to 10 billion viral particles every day, is highly error prone and has a high chance of leading to viral mutation, the CDC said.

Failure to take antiretrovirals regularly thus results in failure to suppress viral replication and increases the mutated viruses’ resistance to drug treatment, the CDC said, adding that the likelihood of patients being hit by opportunistic infections would also increase, complicating subsequent treatment.

A program to monitor the effects of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) among HIV-infected patients was launched by the center in November last year.

By monitoring medical records, the program aims to locate patients who do not regularly visit their doctor or take antiretroviral drugs and help them devise a schedule tailored to their needs.

The program has the authority to halt National Health Insurance-sponsored medication payments for three months (with the exception of patients who have an urgent clinical need) if a patient who has been consulted still fails to adhere to the therapy for more than six months, the CDC said.

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