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Study: Anti-HIV
drugs still effective after 10 years

Study: Anti-HIV
drugs still effective after 10 years

A recent study indicates that HIV antiretroviral therapy drugs remain effective 10 years after their introduction, but many patients are not put on them soon enough. Despite experts' fears that HIV would become resistant to treatment and deaths worldwide would increase, the scientists said that has not happened.

The study found that drug combinations reduce mortality and progression to AIDS by about 80% to 90%, but in some areas of the world tuberculosis has become a dangerous coinfection in some patients. "Ten years on, these treatments still work as well as they did initially, [but] there is a change in terms of TB becoming more important," said professor Matthias Egger of Switzerland's University of Bern. He added that if people were diagnosed and started treatment earlier, the drugs "would achieve even more."

The findings in the study derive from data on more than 22,000 HIV patients in Europe and North America who started treatment between 1995 and 2003. Egger, a study coauthor, said there is widespread consensus that patients should start treatment when their CD4-cell counts drop below 350 or when the patient shows symptoms of illness. The research showed that the median cell count for starting treatment increased from 170 in 1995-1996 to 269 in 1998, then dropped to around 200. The study noted that people who start treatment with a CD4-cell count of less than 200 have a higher risk of progression to AIDS than patients with a higher baseline count. (Reuters)

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