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HIV used to be a death sentence. In recent years, improvements in treatment strategies and medication have allowed individuals to go on to long, productive lives following their original diagnosis. However, evidence suggests that these therapies are most effective when the infection is caught early, underscoring the importance of HIV testing.
For example, researchers from the National Institutes of Health recently found that individuals who begin antiretroviral therapy (ART) soon after infection have a stronger immune system response to the virus.
For the study, investigators recruited men who had been infected with HIV for less than six months, men who had the disease for more than six months and a third group that was disease free. They then started infected men on ART.
After one year of follow up, researchers found that men who began therapy sooner had stronger immune cells that were more capable of producing antibodies for the virus. Additionally, men in the late-treatment group had higher levels of "exhausted" immune cells, which had shut down and were no longer fighting the infection.
Regular HIV testing among all sexually active individuals may help improve the survival rate of the disease.
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