Blood Marker May Indicate Length of Survival for HIV Patients
A "simple and inexpensive" test for the blood marker suPAR may help predict the odds of survival for people with HIV and help physicians make treatment decisions, according to an Italian study published in today's issue of the journal Blood. Reuters Health reports that the substance is also linked to poor survival rates in cancer patients. Researchers at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Milan observed blood levels of suPAR in 314 HIV-positive people and found high levels of the substance were indicative of low survival rates in both men and women. The results held even after investigators accounted for factors such as viral load, CD4 cell count, age and treatment. The cause of the elevated levels is unknown. Researchers said they are unsure why high levels of suPAR are linked to low survival rates, and cautioned that the accuracy of the study, the first to examine the substance's relationship to HIV, needs to be confirmed. "Although the current study shows a strong association between suPAR and disease progression, it is important to realize that the amount of data from this single study does not justify suggestions of using suPAR as a standard prognostic parameter" one of the researchers, Dr. Nicolai Sidenius, wrote. However, researchers suggested that if confirmed, the suPAR test "may prove to be an attractive alternative to more expensive tests" (Reuters Health, 12/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.