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Study: More people using HIV treatments in U.S.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have learned that HIV treatment use has risen in the U.S. According to a recent report published by the school’s Public Health News Center, the numbers of HIV-infected patients in the U.S. receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) rose during the study period, and HIV-infected patients were less infectious and had healthier immune systems at death.

Examining a study population of more than 45,000 HIV-infected participants, the researchers found that the proportion of HIV-infected patients prescribed HAART rose 9 percentage points to 83 percent.

The researchers also detected a rise in viral load suppression among the HIV-infected patients. Among the HIV-infected patients prescribed HAART, the proportion with a suppressed viral load rose from 54 percent to 81 percent. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, the total viral load is the amount of HIV in your blood. HIV-infected participants with a suppressed viral load have less HIV in their blood and a lower chance of spreading HIV to others.

“This is good news for the HIV epidemic in the U.S., but there is room for improvement,” said Keri Althoff, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Epidemiology, in a statement. “We need to continue to focus on linking HIV-infected adults into care and effective treatment, not only for the individual’s health, but to reduce the likelihood of transmission to others.”

Researchers also found higher CD4 counts among participants who passed away from HIV during the study. According to researchers, higher CD4 counts point towards healthier immune systems.

“Our study demonstrates the data from the NA-ACCORD can be used to monitor important health indicators among adults with HIV, which is needed to evaluate the impact of the Affordable Care Act and to measure progress towards the National HIV Strategy goals,” said Ms. Althoff.

The findings were published in a recent edition of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.