August 14, 2002
Individual counseling and tailored drug regimens can help newly diagnosed HIV patients stick with their treatment and remain healthier over time, a University at Buffalo study has found. The study was based on counseling offered to Erie County Medical Center HIV clinic patients about proper diet, side effects of medication, and how to plan their drug regimen. Patients who received the counseling had lower levels of the virus nearly one year later than patients who did not receive it, UB researchers reported.
The researchers say that this is the first time such a treatment program has been shown to reduce viral levels over such an extended period. The results of the study were presented last month at the 14th International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain. "We consider it individualizing therapy, and it's something that's a little bit new for managing HIV," said Lori Esch, a clinical assistant professor at UB's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, which runs the clinic.
Researchers began their study at the clinic in 1999, tracking the treatment of 25 patients who received the adherence counseling and 38 control patients who received standard care. The patients receive intensive coaching for a month before they start taking their medicine and during the first four months of treatment, Esch said. Some patients have trouble fitting their drug regimen into their lives. The counselors can provide stickers, written schedules or beepers programmed to go off when a pill should be taken. According to UB researchers, 94 percent of the patients who got the counseling had viral levels below detection 48 weeks after starting medication, compared with 63 percent of the patients who did not get it.
08.05.02; Stephen Watson