(April 24, 2008 - Insidermedicine) Monitoring a patient's clinical condition is nearly as effective a tool for guiding treatment as blood testing among those infected with the HIV virus, according to research published in The Lancet.
Here are some facts about HIV and its treatment:
• Antiretroviral drugs help prevent the HIV virus from multiplying inside the body.
• To help fight resistance to antiretroviral drugs, patients receive combinations of drugs that need to be changed periodically.
• In regions where laboratory testing is available, the decision to switch from one antiretroviral strategy to another is based on blood analysis that determines the amount of HIV virus in the blood, as well as the number of CD4 cells in the blood, which are immune system cells that are destroyed by the HIV virus.
Researchers out of University College London used a computer simulation program to predict how long patients infected with HIV would survive if their antiretroviral treatment were guided by viral load, CD4 cell count, or clinical signs and symptoms defined by the World Health Organization.
Based on the simulation, 83% of patients would survive five years if their therapy were guided by viral load, and 82% would survive if their treatment were guided by CD4 cell count or clinical features. Similarly, 67% of patients would survive 20 years using a viral load-based strategy, and 64% would survive 20 years using CD4 count or clinical features.
Today's research demonstrates how important it is to ensure that developing countries have access to all available antiretroviral drugs.
For Insidermedicine in Depth, I'm Dr. Susan Sharma.