March 25, 2004
To assess the effectiveness of HAART, the researchers measured HIV markers in the blood of patients. "We found that low CD4+ counts and high viral load prior to treatment do not matter in determining the outcome for HIV-infected patients, as long as those numbers improved," Anastos said. "Only post-HAART treatment levels of these markers matter in determining a patient's chances of survival."
Anastos and colleagues found that, "Even in women with advanced immunologic abnormalities, HAART that raises the CD4+ cell count to greater than 200 cells/microl and reduces HIV-1 RNA levels to less than 10,000 copies/mL effectively mitigates the negative prognosis associated with low CD4+ cell counts and high HIV-1 RNA prior to therapy."
However, "There are still some patients who do not respond to therapy with improved laboratory values of CD4+ count and viral load, and thus may not do well clinically," the authors wrote.
The study, "The Prognostic Importance of Changes in CD4+ Cell Count and HIV-1 RNA Level in Women After Initiating Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy," was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2004;140(4):256-264).
Women's Health Weekly