A first-of-its-kind clinical study in Uganda that compared socioeconomic outcomes with CD4+ counts—a standard measure of health status for people with HIV—showed that adults with HIV in rural sub-Saharan Africa who receive antiretroviral drugs early in their infection, they may reap benefits in their ability to work and their children’s ability to stay in school.
The study, presented at XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. today, found that people infected with HIV who had high CD4+ counts were able to work 30 percent more hours per day and their children had school enrollment rates that were 15 percent higher than the children of people with low CD4+ counts.
The discovery, by researchers in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the result of one piece of a larger study, called the Sustainable East Africa Research in Community Health (SEARCH) Collaboration, led by doctors at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (SFGH) and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.
UCSF’s Elvin Geng, who was involved in the study, describes its results here:
SEARCH is based on the success of a comprehensive approach to addressing HIV/AIDS that was pioneered in San Francisco. The strategy, known as “test and treat,” involves universal testing, linkage to care and early treatment. Mounting evidence shows that this tactic keeps people healthier longer and reduces the spread of HIV within the community. The overall goal of SEARCH is to demonstrate that this same approach could be used effectively in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where 60 percent of all the people infected with HIV worldwide reside.
The goal of this piece of analysis was to examine the potential for economic benefits to be generated by earlier initiation of treatment, said Harsha Thirumurthy, PhD, an economist with the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“If you intervene early, there is hope you can prevent that decline,” he said.
Read the full story on the UCSF website.
Elvin Geng, MD, an assistant professor in the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Positive Health Program at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (SFGH)