Early medical intervention in human immunodeficiency virus disease has farreaching implications for the health care system of the United States. Several factors are enabling the medical community to begin intervention prior to a patient's diagnosis of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. These factors include an understanding of the biologic markers of disease progression; advances in antiviral therapeutics; and an improved ability to control the most common presenting opportunistic infection, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. Providing adequate ambulatory care for large numbers of asymptomatic human immunodeficiency virus—infected individuals and coordinating inner-city health care facilities will become critical. Important questions regarding service provision need to be adequately addressed. The cost of yearly treatment, estimated to be $5 billion per year, will require a major financial commitment at all levels of government and the private sector. Effective early intervention in human immunodeficiency virus disease may alter the course of one of the most devastating epidemics in modern history. Planning for its implementation should begin immediately.
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