HIV medicine is an ever-changing discipline. Recent advances in HIV have improved treatment and people's health and wellbeing.
The SMART study, one of the largest HIV studies ever conducted determined that structured or unstructured, treatment interruptions were a very bad idea. The study made it clear that interrupted treatment strategies were worse for a person's else than was a continuous treatment approach.
2. Viral Load Measurements Can Predict Declines in CD4 Counts...Sometimes
It was commonly held that high viral load counts are predictors of declining CD4 counts. A study in 2006 disproved that belief...sort of. Simply put, higher viral loads can predict that the CD4 count will decline, but not in everyone. As a result doctors should be flexible in their treatment decisions, realizing that a high viral load may not signal an impending disaster.
3. Kaletra vs. Sustiva - Is One Drug Better than Another?
For the first time, these two popular and potent HIV medications were pitted against one another in a study by the AIDS Clinical Trials Groups (ACTG). The study resulted in an interesting finding. People on Sustiva
were more likely to have undetectable viral loads while those on Kaletra
had higher CD4 counts. Simply put, doctors and patients will have to decide what's more important; a higher CD4 or an undetectable viral load.
4. HIV Treatment Studies Help Doctors Decide Which Regimen is Best
Often, scientists conduct head-to-head clinical trials in an effort to clarify which regimens are best for which circumstances. Some combinations are better as first time regimens and some are better for those patients who have been on treatment in the past. Shedding some light on specific combinations of drugs makes these studies a very important story indeed.
For years observational studies suggested that circumcision offered some protection against HIV infection. Now controlled trials conducted in Africa has proven that circumcision can reduce the HIV infection rate. Could this be an effective means to slow the epidemic throughout Africa?
The first question I hear when telling someone they are HIV infected is how long will they live. My answer has always been that there is no answer...life expectancy varies from person to person and is impacted by a myriad of factors. But now researchers at Emory University's Center for AIDS Research says their studies indicate people live on average 24 years after being diagnosed with HIV. Since 1993 the average life span after diagnosis has more than tripled from 7 years to 24 years, a testament to more effective treatments and better HIV care.
For years lipodystrophy has been a problems for many HIV patients on treatment regimens. "Crixi-belly", "Protease Paunch" and "Buffalo Hump" has been linked to a few meds like Zerit
, and the Protease Inhibitor Crixivan
. Studies proved that these drugs aren't the only culprits. More work needs to be done to better understand this continuing problem, but research is helping us understand.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that HIV testing and HIV screening be part of routine clinical care in all health care settings. The CDC also has stated it suggests that the patient's right to refuse be preserved in order to facilitate a good working relationship between patient and doctor.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have released HIV treatment guidelines updating the way doctors treat their HIV patients. The latest version recommends HIV treatment for all patients with a CD4 count od 350 or less.
Research goes on everyday in hopes of finding new effective drugs to treat HIV; drugs like the protease inhibitor Prezista (darunavir)
. The new medications are easier to take with fewer side effects, making adherence easier. Not only are new drugs on the way, but some are the first drug in an exciting drug class. Help is on the way.