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Diabetes drug could lessen side effects of HIV antiretrovirals

Diabetes drug could lessen side effects of HIV antiretrovirals

A drug commonly prescribed to diabetics could help HIV-positive people avoid some of the metabolic side effects of antiretroviral drug therapy, including insulin resistance and lipodystrophy, according to a study in the May 19 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. HIV-positive study subjects taking GlaxoSmithKline's diabetes drug Avandia for three months had a 20% improvement in insulin sensitivity, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School report. Lipodystrophy symptoms, including fat loss from the face and extremities and fat gains in the abdomen and other parts of the body, also improved in the study patients receiving the diabetes medication. The researchers say Avandia could be useful in helping HIV-positive people avoid certain complications associated with highly active antiretroviral therapy. "The metabolic complications of this condition are becoming more significant as patients spend more time on HAART," said lead study author Colleen Hadigan. "For example, we now know that 14% of men on this therapy may develop type II diabetes, which is four times the usual risk; and concerns are also increasing about the related risk of heart disease. We were able to demonstrate that this class of agents can slow down or reverse fat loss in patients with fat atrophy." (Reuters)

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