Triple-Drug Antiretroviral Therapy Increases HIV Survival Times, Inhibits Disease Progression, Study Says
The advent of triple-drug antiretroviral therapy in the mid-1990s has helped to decrease HIV patients' likelihood of developing AIDS and increase the amount of time from HIV infection to AIDS diagnosis, according to a French study appearing in the May issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, Reuters Health reports. Dr. Dominique Costagliola of the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale and colleagues tracked approximately 4,700 HIV-positive patients for whom they knew the date of infection to determine whether different treatment regimens had an effect on their disease progression. The patients were divided into three groups based on their infection date: patients in group one began treatment between January 1992 and June 1995, when standard therapy was one anti-HIV drug; group two began treatment between July 1995 and June 1996, when standard therapy was two antiretroviral medications; and group three began treatment after June 1996, when standard therapy consisted of two antiretroviral drugs and a protease inhibitor. Patients were tracked throughout the 1990s. In 1995, the odds of patients on therapy not developing AIDS within five years were about 70%. Those odds climbed to 78% between mid-1995 and mid-1996 and to nearly 90% after the middle of 1996. The researchers also noted that the time between infection and AIDS diagnosis increased over the decade. Prior to mid-1995, the average estimated time from infection to AIDS diagnosis was eight years. That time increased to almost 10 years from mid-1995 to mid-1996 and then doubled to 20 years after mid-1997. A study by New York City health officials also appearing in JAIDS had similar findings. Out of 80,000 New York City residents with AIDS, 43% who had been diagnosed with HIV from 1990 to 1995 were still alive two years after diagnosis. The proportion climbed to 76% for people diagnosed from 1996 to 1998. The New York study noted that people with specific AIDS-related illnesses, such as certain cancers, were less likely to benefit from combination drug therapy (Reuters Health, 5/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.