Response to AIDS Drugs Equal Across Race: Study
January 15, 2003
Highly active antiretroviral therapy is equally effective in patients regardless of race or ethnicity, according to researchers.
The results contradict those of previous studies showing that these and other factors, such as age and income, may influence how well a person responds to HAART. But according to the current study, language barriers, different health beliefs, the stigmatization of HIV-infected individuals, and other factors may affect the use of medication. The full study, "The Effect of Race/Ethnicity on the Outcome of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy for Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type-1 Infected Patients," was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases (2002;35:1541-1548).
Researchers reviewed data on 389 white and 135 nonwhite patients older than 15 living in Denmark, which has a national health care system. One year after receiving a prescription for HAART, there were no differences in viral load between the two groups of patients, according to Dr. Soren Jensen-Fangel and colleagues from Aarhus University in Denmark.
The researchers explain that US studies showing that a person's racial or ethnic background affects the response to treatment are probably not accounting for economic status. "Non-white background will be closely linked to relatively poorer access to health care" in the United States and similar countries without a national health care system, Jensen-Fangel and colleagues explain. "Access to health care and antiretroviral treatment is free in Denmark -- that is, the outcome is not affected by the financial status of the patient per se."
The study also found that nonwhite patients were more likely to delay initiation of their treatment, for reasons that are not clear. "An increasing number of patients with HIV infection in Denmark will be of nonwhite origin, and the health care system will have to implement treatment programs for this group to avoid delay in the receipt of treatment," researchers concluded.
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.