August 7, 2003
There are more than 2,600 AIDS patients in Japan, and about 5,300 people reportedly infected with HIV. Some estimates suggest the number of HIV patients could surge to 50,000 by 2010.
Drug-resistant HIV emerges after patients are treated with HIV drugs, and the virus mutates in response. The use of at least three drugs -- highly active antiretroviral therapy -- reduces the probability of resistance. However, problems with adherence can reduce the drugs' effectiveness. "If HIV-infected people who are taking drugs twice a day forget to take them three times a month there [is] a risk that the HIV could become drug resistant," said Kazuko Ikeda, who is in charge of medication support at Tokyo's International Medical Center of Japan. He said some people get tired of taking the drugs and some suffer side effects.
Nagoya's immunity deficiency center monitors whether patients are adhering to their drug regimens for six months after therapy begins, but few hospitals offer that service. The US CDC announced guidelines for medical institution workers with HIV patients, advising testing the patients for STDs to determine risk behavior, and offering lifestyle counseling.
Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo)
08.04.03; Sadao Hirayama; Kyoko Takita; Koichi Yasuda
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