Participaton in early prevention is key, urges LPV
Living Positive Victoria has released a new mission statement that encourages people diagnosed with HIV to undergo treatment early, regardless of their CD4 level.
Following increased recommendations from global expert opinion, LPV’s statement indicates that early treatment of HIV impacts the progress of the infection considerably, and that of a person’s overall wellbeing.
While treatment in Australia is recommended when a patient’s measure of CD4 levels falls below 500 copies - the measure that indicates the damage caused by the virus within the body – regulations for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme limit the availability of anti-retroviral drugs.
However, LPV President Sam Venning said it is necessary that access to treatment is available to those infected, regardless of their count.
“We believe this is vitally important for couples where one person is HIV positive and the other HIV negative" he said.
"We will support anyone living with HIV who is willing to start treatment early to understand the importance of adherence to treatment, potential side effects but also the health and preventative benefits of early HIV treatment."
Venning said treatments today are more effective and with fewer side effects, are easier to take.
“They are growing evidence that not only do these treatments support and protect an individual’s immune system, they can significantly decrease the forward transmission of HIV,” he said.
The statement also recommends that treatment should be available to those who are ineligible for Medicare, on the basis of “compassionate and public health grounds”.
"The decision to go on treatment has always been something that any person with HIV has to face and we want to support people to consider an early treatment option - firstly and most importantly for their own health." Venning said.
Several global HIV agencies, including the New England Journal of Medicine, have released research that indicates early treatment is vital for the overall wellbeing of those infected with HIV.
US based Centers for Disease Control has also released a report that highlights self-health is “a first priority” for those living with HIV, and credits early anti-retroviral therapy as contributing toa longer lifespan and overall reduction in transmission of the devastating virus.
LPV is expected to release fact sheets that highlight myths associated with HIV treatment and will feature stories of those undergoing early treatment as prevention.
For more information, see livingpositivevictoria.org.au