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As many as 20,000
U.S. HIV patients desperately need new treatments

As many as 20,000
U.S. HIV patients desperately need new treatments

About 40,000 HIV patients are on salvage regimens, but half desperately need new drugs.

As many as 40,000 HIV-positive Americans are resistant to virtually all antiretroviral drugs, with 20,000 of them in desperate need of new treatments, AIDS advocate Nelson Vergel told The Wall Street Journal. Most of those resistant to anti-HIV medications and on so-called salvage regimens that can contain as many as six or more antiretroviral drugs have been HIV-positive for as long as 20 years and cycled through the available treatments one at a time. This allowed HIV to mutate defenses against each individual drug and in some cases to even develop resistance to entire classes of medications.

AIDS researcher Steven Deeks of San Francisco General Hospital, who is currently heading a study of 300 HIV-positive adults on salvage regimens, told the Journal he believes one reason so many people have developed multidrug resistance is that they've added new anti-HIV drugs to their regimens too quickly. Instead, he suggests, patients experiencing drug resistance should wait until two--or ideally three--new medications become available that are effective in controlling drug-resistant virus. Adding one new drug to an otherwise failing regimen significantly boosts the odds that HIV will become resistant to the new drug as well, he says.

There are several experimental anti-HIV drugs in development at numerous pharmaceutical firms that show potential in treating drug-resistant virus. Vergel says some of these may be available as early as this summer and early 2007. (The Advocate)

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