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Older People on Antiretroviral Therapy Receive Benefits ‘Similar’ to Younger Patients
HIV-positive people aged 50 and over who take antiretroviral drugs receive benefits "similar" to those observed in younger patients and are actually more likely to have lower viral loads, according to a study published in last month's issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Reuters Health reports. Dr. Kenneth Schmader of Duke University Medical Center and colleagues compared the records of 101
HIV-positive patients aged 50 and over to the records of 202 patients between the ages of 18 and 39 and found that both sets of patients experienced similar rises in the number of CD4+ T cells in their blood. Older patients were also found to have lower viral loads, a fact Schmader found a "little surprising." He said older patients were found to be more likely to stick to their drug regimen, which could account for the greater viral suppression. "I don't think [the lower levels are] because they have better immune systems," he added. The researchers recommended that more research should be conducted to confirm the study results and determine the "long-term outcomes" of older patients on antiretroviral therapy. Previous studies had indicated that older patients were less likely to benefit from the drugs, but those studies were conducted before the introduction of combination therapy in the mid-1990s. This study ran from 1993 to 1999. Until additional study results are available, Schmader recommended that combination therapy "be offered to older patients when clinically indicated, and the failure of an older patient to respond to this regimen should not be attributed to age alone" (McKinney, Reuters Health, 5/9).
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