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The Body Covers: The 39th Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America
HIV/AIDS: Antiretroviral Therapy (Poster Session 87)

October 27, 2001

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

  • Once-Weekly Epoetin Alfa Increases Hemoglobin and Improves Quality of Life in Anemic HIV-Positive Patients (Poster 708)
    Authored by M.S. Saag, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL; A.M. Levine, University of Southern CA, Los Angeles, CA; G.J. Leitz, P.J. Bowers, Ortho Biotech Products, L P, Raritan, NJ


In the early days of the HIV epidemic, anemia was a huge problem. First it was due to advanced HIV and then it was related to AZT. Since we have been using lower doses of AZT, it is seen less commonly, but is not any less important. From the cancer literature it became clear that quality of life declined dramatically when a patient's hemoglobin level fell below 12. That fact was often not clear to us in the trenches and we let the anemia get much lower. Then, it also became obvious that survival of patients with HIV was impacted by hemoglobins below 12 and that gave a real impetus to keep the anemia treated with epoetin alfa (Procrit). The dosage then was 10,000 units three times a week, which was somewhat inconvenient for patients (although there were no side effects associated with the drug). Gradually it was learned that once-weekly dosing was just as effective as three times per week and this study examines that dose.

Epoetin alfa (Procrit) is a study drug that is near and dear to my heart. We have been using it for ribavirin-induced anemia in hepatitis C-infected patients and it works very well. This study from Alabama suggests something that most of us who have ever used the drug already knew: It raises hemoglobin very well and abolishes the symptoms of anemia. That is well known and has been shown before. This study concentrated on the quality of life of people taking epoetin alfa. Generally, QOL is divided into several self-explanatory categories: physical function, energy and fatigue. All of these factors increased significantly with epoetin alfa use. This means that patients felt substantially better and probably, extrapolating from the older study, will have a longer survival. There was also a significant drop in transfusion requirements. Epoetin alfa has virtually no side effects and is used by injection once weekly. For anemia there is no reason not to use epoetin alfa that I can think of -- it is an ideal pharmaceutical product!


A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

See Also
More HIV/AIDS-Related Anemia Research and News



  
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This article was provided by The Body PRO. Copyright © Body Health Resources Corporation. All rights reserved.


Please note: Knowledge about HIV changes rapidly. Note the date of this summary's publication, and before treating patients or employing any therapies described in these materials, verify all information independently. If you are a patient, please consult a doctor or other medical professional before acting on any of the information presented in this summary. For a complete listing of our most recent conference coverage, click here.

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