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IL-2, are the benefits proven?
Oct 2, 2001

Thank you for answering this. I have recently begun a SILCAAT trial on Il-2. After the first 5 day cycle my t-cells jumped from 180 to 342. I have just completed my second cycle with a minimum to slightly difficult degree of side effects. How do I know given the sometimes contradictory evidence in the medical community about IL-2"s effectiveness that this is worth the effort? What is your opinion of this drug? AP

Response from Dr. Pavia

Well, the short answer is that the reason the trial you are in is being done is that there is a very reasonable chance that IL-2 will be worth it in the long run, but we just don't know.

We do know that IL-2 can increase CD4 cells. We know that in the second year, it takes less IL-2 to keep them up. We know that, with HAART, IL-2 won't raise your viral load, and one study we were part of showed a drop in viral loads with IL-2. We also know it is expensive and the side effects vary a lot from one person to the next, but at times they can be a bear.

What we don't know is if you will live a longer and healthier life with IL-2. We don't know if you will have fewer infections. We don't know if at some point, the IL-2 will boost the ability of the body to control HIV without antivirals. All of these might be true, but until the studies are done, we don't know.

For now, my best guess is that IL-2 may make sense for people who are starting out below 200 CD4 cells, and who don't increase rapidly with HAART.

By being part of the study, you are helping to answer these questions. You probably are not doing any harm to your self other than the side effects you have experienced, but the benefit is less clear.

Hope that helps

ATP



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