Combined Use of Antiretrovirals, Antibiotic, ITNs Could Reduce Malaria Incidence Among HIV-Positive People by 95%, Study Says
The combined use of antiretroviral drugs, the antibiotic cotrimoxazole and insecticide-treated nets could reduce the incidence of malaria among HIV-positive people by up to 95%, according to a study published in the April 15 issue of the journal Lancet, Reuters reports. HIV-positive people are more susceptible to opportunistic diseases such as malaria, which also can be more severe in people living with HIV. Jonathan Mermin of the Uganda Virus Research Institute in Entebbe, Uganda, and colleagues looked at how individual and combined treatments for malaria affected about 1,000 HIV-positive people in Uganda. The researchers found that cotrimoxazole -- an antibiotic widely used among HIV-positive people worldwide -- reduced malaria incidence among the study participants by 76%. Cotrimoxazole taken with antiretroviral drugs reduced incidence by 92%, and the combination of the two drugs cut incidence by up to 95% when patients also used ITNs, the study finds. The researchers said the antiretrovirals do not have any effect on the malaria parasite but strengthened the participants' immune systems. "Although these interventions work separately, the prime message is that together they are associated with [up to] a 95% reduction in malaria," Mermin said, adding, "Malaria then becomes a rare event among this population whereas before the interventions it was quite common" (Reaney, Reuters, 4/14).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.