Early treatment crucial for over 45's
A study in the United States has found that people living with HIV aged 45 to 65, who start treatment with low CD4 counts – a measure of how healthy the immune system is – have higher mortality rates than their younger counterparts. Improved health outcomes were experienced among this group when treatment was started earlier, at the World Health Organisation recommended CD4 count of 500 cells/mm3.
Although we knew that age was one of the factors for poor health among HIV-positive people not taking treatment, little was known about the links between ageing and poor health outcomes when treatment start-up was delayed. This new study looked to fill this gap by assessing the mortality rates over ten years of 3,532 people, according to both their age and their CD4 count when they started treatment. The results showed that people aged 45 to 65 had the highest mortality rate at all the CD4 count thresholds.
This new research highlights the crucial importance of older people starting treatment early to ensure it is as effective as possible. The need for comprehensive testing, referrals, treatment start-up and monitoring services is central to making this work.