AIDS sufferers whose treatment is assessed by simple clinical signs are almost on a par with those whose therapies are based on advanced laboratory analysis, the World Health Organisation said Friday.
A new study appearing the in British medical journal The Lancet says monitoring simple physical signs of deteriorating health -- such as weight loss or fever -- lets doctors provide therapies almost as effective as those relying on laboratory tests.
"The results of this study should reassure clinicians in Africa and Asia, who are treating literally millions of people without these laboratory tests, that they are not compromising patient safety," said Charles Gilks, a co-author of the study and the coordinator of antiretroviral treatment and HIV care at the WHO.
"In fact, the outcome of their treatment is almost as good as those patients in the USA and Europe where laboratory-guided treatment is the norm," he said.
The five-year survival rate for patients who only had clinical monitoring was 82 percent, against 83 percent for those using laboratory tests.
The WHO recommends that where resources are limited, AIDS treatments should be determined by monitoring clinical signs alone.