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Experts say that frequent HIV testing for individuals in high-risk populations is one of the most important things they can do. Not only could this help slow the spread of the infection by identifying individuals who have the disease, it may also help carriers live healthier lives.
Study after study has shown that individuals who begin antiretroviral therapy soon after they have been infected live longer, healthier lives. Early treatment also helps make their infection less contagious, which reduces the risk of spread.
Additionally, a recent study found that it is more cost-effective to treat infected individuals early rather than later. After reviewing the medical records of more than 8,000 HIV positive patients, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that individuals who began treatment late when their immune system had been weakened spent anywhere from $27,275 to $61,615 more on lifetime treatment costs than those who were diagnosed and treated early.
"We know that it's important clinically to get people into care early because they will stay healthier and do better over the long run," said Kelly Gebo, who led the study. "But now we know it's also more costly to the health care system for potentially decades and a serious drain on our limited health care dollars."
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