AIDS Patients in Haiti Have Similar Response to Drug Regimen as U.S. Patients, Study Says
When given a standard three-drug antiretroviral regimen, AIDS patients in Haiti have similar treatment responses as AIDS patients in the U.S., according to a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Boston Globe reports (Smith, Boston Globe, 12/1). Patrice Severe of the Haitian Study Group on Kaposi's Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections and colleagues examined 1,004 AIDS patients who began a regimen of antiretroviral drugs after clinics in Haiti started receiving international funding in 2003. Researchers found that one year after the treatment began, 87% of adults and 98% of children were still alive, which is comparable to one-year survival rates in the U.S. (Nano, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 12/1). The report's finding runs counter to some arguments that the high cost of antiretrovirals and a lack of medical infrastructures in many developing countries make delivering treatment difficult, the Miami Herald reports. Andre Vulcain, coordinator for AIDS care at the University of Miami's program in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, said, "For many years, the international community had a lot of reservations in promoting treatment for HIV/AIDS in developing countries" (Goldstein, Miami Herald, 12/1). Calvin Cohen -- research director for the Community Research Initiative of New England, which conducts HIV/AIDS drug trials -- said, "What this report confirms is that the hesitation to treat [patients in developing countries] is not warranted for any medical reasons" (Boston Globe, 12/1). According to a report released last week by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, Haiti -- the country with the highest HIV prevalence rate in the Western hemisphere -- has shown an encouraging decrease in prevalence, with rates declining from 5% to 3% since the 1990s, in part because of a reduction in the stigma associated with the virus, new education programs and clinics, and international aid (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/23).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Thursday reported on the study. The segment includes comments from Bill Pape, a Cornell University faculty member who directs a treatment program in Port au Prince; Dan Fitzgerald, a Cornell physician working in Port au Prince; and Charlie Gilks of WHO (Knox, "Morning Edition," NPR, 12/1). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.