The Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment (START) study established that PLHIV who start ART immediately on diagnosis while their CD4 cell count is still high rather than waiting until it falls, have significantly lower risk of illness and death over the long term from HIV.

Today, a growing number of clinicians, public health organisations, researchers and PLHIV actively endorse immediate HIV treatment at, or close to, diagnosis, to:

  • reduce the risk of passing HIV on to partners
  • reduce HIV-related inflammation and stress (including fatigue and depression) on the immune system
  • reduce the risks of developing an opportunistic infection
  • reduce HIV viral load (often to undetectable levels i.e., maintain an Undetectable Viral Load [UVL]).

Immediate treatment also

  • maintains a high CD4 count and a stronger immune system over the long term, and
  • benefits and improves the mental health and quality of life for PLHIV.

Starting ART immediately can preserve the health of PLHIV and one of the best tools we have to slow HIV transmission to other people.

Positive Life takes the position, supported by our members, that 100% of PLHIV in NSW initiate treatment immediately on diagnosis. We support the choice of PLHIV to make an informed decision about treatment and recognise the rights of some PLHIV to delay treatment or ‘opt-out’ from taking medication if they wish.

ACON and Positive Life NSW have produced a comprehensive Evidence Brief to support people newly diagnosed with HIV, people living with HIV (PLHIV) and others who are engaged with our health to become familiar with the most up-to-date information about the benefits of immediate uptake (‘rapid initiation’) of antiretroviral therapy (ART).


Positive Life Treatment Officers

If you are HIV positive and want to discuss your treatment options, please call one of our registered nurses on (02) 9206-2177 or 1800 245 677 (freecall).

More Information about Immediate HIV Treatment

Evidence brief: Rapid inititation - models for the immediate uptake of HIV treatment

Resources for People living with HIV

Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Treatment (START) study

The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Guideline on When to Start Antiretroviral Therapy and on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV