Purpose of review: Optimal control of HIV can be achieved by early diagnosis followed by the initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Two large randomised trials (TEMPRANO and START) have recently been published documenting the clinical benefits to HIV-positive adults of early ART initiation. Main findings are reviewed with a focus on serious non-AIDS (SNA) conditions. Recent findings: Data from the two trials demonstrated that initiating ART early in the course of HIV infection resulted in marked reductions in the risk of opportunistic diseases and invasive bacterial infections. This indicates that HIV causes immune impairment in early infection that is remedied by controlling viral replication. Intriguingly, in START, a marked reduction in risk of cancers, both infection-related and unrelated types of cancers, was observed. Like the findings for opportunistic infections, this anti-cancer effect of early ART shows how the immune system influences important pro-oncogenic processes. In START, there was also some evidence suggesting that early ART initiation preserved kidney function, although the clinical consequence of this remains unclear. Conversely, while no adverse effects were evident, the trials did not demonstrate a clear effect on metabolic-related disease outcomes, pulmonary disease, or neurocognitive function. Summary: HIV causes immune impairment soon after acquisition of infection. ART reverses this harm at least partially. The biological nature of the immune impairment needs further elucidation, as well as mechanisms and clinical impact of innate immune activation. Based on the findings from TEMPRANO and START, and because ART lowers the risk of onward transmission, ART initiation should be offered to all persons following their diagnosis of HIV.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding Information This work was supported by the Danish National Research Foundation [grant 126].
Conflict of Interest Alvaro H Borges is supported by Lundbeckfonden (grant R219-2016-762). James D. Neaton reports grants from NIH and NIAID. Jens D. Lundgren declares no conflict of interest.
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- Antiretroviral therapy
- Serious non-AIDS events