A study of HIV positive male and female injection drug users with similar amounts of the HIV virus in their blood found that women developed full-blown AIDS faster than did men.
Based on this finding, study authors recommended that antiretroviral drug treatment should be administered earlier in women than in men. “These data suggest that current recommendations for HIV-1 viral-load thresholds to initiate antiretroviral therapy should be revised downwards for women,” wrote the study’s authors.
Among the 600 individuals studied, women were 1.6 times more likely to develop full-blown AIDS than were men with similar viral levels.
Current procedures call for antiretroviral drugs when a patient has at least 10,000 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood and a CD4 cell count of 500 or more. Researchers suggested that women may need antiretroviral drugs earlier, when their HIV blood count reaches 500.
Study authors at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in Baltimore called for further research among those who are not injection drug users.