May 17, 2007
Early treatment with a combination therapy that contains three classes of antiretroviral drugs can reduce viral loads quickly -- raising the possibility that HIV can be eliminated in people with already low viral loads following aggressive treatment with new drug classes -- according to study published in the June 15 issue of the Journal of Infectious Disease, Bloomberg reports.
Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and colleagues followed seven HIV-positive people for 3.5 to 4.5 years, measuring the number of resting CD4+ T cells in which HIV remained throughout treatment. The study found that early treatment with the three-drug combination therapy reduced the number of infected resting T cells by 50% every 4.6 months. Based on the results, the researchers estimated that 7.7 years of the combination therapy could all but eliminate HIV among people who began treatment early.
Although the number of study participants who started the combination therapy early, remained on treatment for years and had low viral loads might be small, studying them "will be of considerable value in assessing the feasibility of eradication of HIV," the researchers said. According to Fauci, the next step is to see if the aggressive treatment, along with Roche's Fuzeon and Merck's Isentress, can eradicate the virus. "The first step is to see how far we can push the envelope" in terms of reducing viral loads, Fauci said, adding, "We now have a scientific basis to feel that it's at least worth pursuing it in some select patients."
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2007 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.