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The SPARTAC results were published in January 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine (N Engl J Med 368;3 January 17, 2013).
Collecting measurements over an average period of 4 years allowed the SPARTAC team to obtain robust evidence on the impact a short course of ART in recent HIV infection has on the progression of HIV disease, compared to participants who received the current standard of care of no early treatment.
Giving people recently infected with HIV 48 weeks of treatment had some advantages, compared to no early treatment:
There was no effect found in giving people recently infected with HIV 12 weeks of treatment, compared to no early treatment. There was no evidence of harm of early treatment in terms of deaths, adverse events and the effectiveness of long-term treatment later on.
What’s the science behind these findings?
More research is needed to understand why 48 weeks of treatment given to participants recently infected with HIV had certain advantages. Our findings suggest that it may be due to 48 weeks of treatment reducing the amount of hidden virus in the body (viral reservoir size).