AIDS THERAPY NOT A FAILURE IF VIRUS REAPPEARS-STUDY
Reuters 10 July 2001
Chicago -- The reappearance of worrisome levels of the AIDS
virus in infected patients' bloodstreams does not mean the drug therapy they
are using has failed, researchers said on Tuesday.
The importance of the finding that HIV levels can rise modestly for a time
and then subside again and are not a sign of a therapy regimen's failure
could spare patients who rush to switch to different drugs and then run out
Doctors writing in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical
Association studied 254 AIDS-infected patients over a 4-1/2-year span and
discovered those with intermittent increases in blood levels of the virus
actually had a lower rate of treatment failure than those who did not have
occasional increases in HIV levels.
"Clinical management options are increased by this knowledge. A higher HIV
RNA level that could trigger a therapy change may preserve the number of
drugs available for future therapeutic regimens," wrote study author Diane
Havlir of the University of California, San Diego.
An editorial accompanying the study in the journal said the longer-term
effects of viral recurrences need to be looked at, but that it may not be
necessary to completely suppress the virus in infected patients.
"It must now be accepted that current therapeutic regimens may not be able to
completely suppress viral replication, even when used under optimal
conditions," wrote Steven Deeks of the University of California, San
"Fortunately, complete viral suppression does not appear to be a prerequisite
for durable virologic and presumably, clinical benefit," he wrote.