Presence of partner may slow HIV progression
January 10 2004 1:00 AM ET
HIV-positive people with a steady partner or spouse may experience slower HIV disease progression and may postpone dying of AIDS-related complications when compared to partner-free, HIV-positive adults, according to a study in the January 3 edition of the British Medical Journal. Researchers at the University Hospital of Basel in Switzerland and colleagues surveyed more than 3,700 HIV-positive people, asking them if they had a stable partner or whether they'd had sex with a stable partner during the prior six months. They found that survey participants with steady partners were more likely to have experienced higher T-cell rebounds than those without partners. HIV disease progression is marked by falling T-cell counts, with most AIDS-related complications and deaths occurring in those with fewer than 200 T cells. The researchers speculate that HIV-positive people may get help with drug adherence from stable partners and be less likely to experience depression, which can lead to other health problems. They recommend that doctors ask their HIV patients if they are in steady relationships and then offer those without partners additional help with treatment adherence and closely monitor them for signs of depression.