Less Expensive ARV Combination Just as Effective for Women in Developing Countries as Costlier ARVs, Study Shows

A new study by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston shows that the less-expensive antiretroviral nevirapine, when used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), is as effective as a more expensive combination among women in developing countries, VOA News reports. While the nevirapine-containing combination was not as effective as some ARV combinations available in the U.S., "about 83 percent of women were able to suppress their virus and stay alive and well after starting the nevirapine-based regimen," according to lead author Shahin Lockman, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, who looked at the combinations among 500 African women with late-stage HIV infection, according to the news service.

However, side effects from nevirapine are common, and according to Lockman, "about 14 percent of the women had to stop nevirapine because of toxicity," VOA notes. Lockman said, "We really do need to push to get safer, better tolerated, more effective treatment accessible so that even if you only have one or perhaps two lines of treatment the majority of people who start these can stay on them for life without toxicity," according to the news service. "She said PEPFAR ... and the Clinton Global Initiative are some of best efforts" to provide ARVs to the millions of women in developing countries who need them, VOA writes (DeCapua, 6/14).