the need for an evidence base during early HIV infection
Strategies for use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) have traditionally focused on providing treatment to persons who stand to benefit immediately from initiating the therapy. There is global consensus that any HIV+ person with CD4 counts less than 350 cells/μl should initiate ART. However, it remains controversial whether ART is indicated in asymptomatic HIV-infected persons with CD4 counts above 350 cells/μl, or whether it is more advisable to defer initiation until the CD4 count has dropped to 350 cells/μl. The question of when the best time is to initiate ART during early HIV infection has always been vigorously debated. The lack of an evidence base from randomized trials, in conjunction with varying degrees of therapeutic aggressiveness and optimism tempered by the risks of drug resistance and side effects, has resulted in divided expert opinion and inconsistencies among treatment guidelines.