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News Shorts

Fall/Winter 1997


What is DMP 266? The market brand name is Sustiva. In technical terms, DMP 266 is a non nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI). It may be easiest to simply call it a non-nuke. This class of drugs includes nevirapine (Viramune) and delavirdine (Rescriptor), both of which are FDA approved. The non-nukes are not to be confused with the "nukes" such as AZT, d4T, 3TC, etc. or the protease inhibitors (ritonavir, indinavir, saquinavir, nelfinavir. Each class of drugs interferes with HIV replication in different ways.

Sustiva apart has an apparent ability to significantly drop viral load and will be in a once a day dose in the form of three 200mg capsules. This may become an option for many consumers of combination therapy.

Fortovase Soft Gel

Fortovase soft gelatin formulation of the protease inhibitor, Invirase is now available. Fortovase allows more of the drug saquinavir to enter the bloodstream resulting in an improved level of viral load reduction.. Given at 1200mg three times daily with meals and in combination with two nucleoside analogues.

Dosages vary depending on the other drugs in your "cocktail" combination. 800mg three times a day is also used in combinations.

One of the draw backs is that the pills come in 200mg doses and are huge. Depending on your regimen, you may have to take 6 of them three times a day.

Decisions to change from Invirase to Fortovase therapy should be made under the supervision of a physician. 800-282-7780.


Currently, clinical trials are being conducted with Fortovase to investigate its efficacy, safety and palatability in children. Studies with a new pediatric powder are expected to begin in 1998.


Combivir is a new formulation of two drugs in one. One dose of Combivir is equivalent to 150mgs of Epivir (3TC) and 300mgs of Retrovir which is AZT. A good idea, having to take only one pill instead of two. But, what if you need to take a different dose of one or the other?


The Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome reported that HIV infected people with selenium deficiency were 19.9 times more likely to become seriously ill than those with adequate selenium levels.

Selenium's chief benefit comes from its role as an antioxidant. The mineral, which is found in grains and vegetables, plays a part in maintaining a healthy immune system by preventing free radical damage to cell membranes.

People who take selenium sup-plements have to be careful which ones they buy because there are many different types available, all with varying degrees of effectiveness and safety. At high doses, inorganic, organic and high-selenium yeast supplements can be toxic.

Viva America claims they have developed a high-potency organic selenium supplement proven to be nontoxic and safe. For mor information call: 800.405.8482. For a mail order catalogue call "fax on demand" from a fax machine phone.

Older Women

Older women are contracting HIV more frequently than ever before, due in part to the fact that their immune system has slowed down with age and that they often do not see themselves as "at risk".

In 1996, the number had nearly tripled to 305 cases. The majority of the infections a decade ago were the result of tainted blood transfusions, while 69% can now be attributed to heterosexual contact. However, the statistics fail to reflect the true volume of infected elderly persons.

The CDC statistics don't begin to reflect the real numbers among older women. Doctors don't expect to see the disease in this group, so they often don't. Many women are not diagnose and are never properly treated. They die and no one ever knows the real reason why.

Doctors should offer HIV testing to women in their 60's, particularly those who report fever or chronic fatigue.

Several reports of older women who had contracted AIDS from husbands infected by prostitutes, but scientist now believe that female-to- male transmission is relatively rare. Generally, the men have been intravenous drug users or have had male sexual partners.

Resistance Test

HIV positive individuals can get a new test to determine whether the strain of virus in their blood is resistant to one or more antiviral drugs. The test is called "HIV antiviral resistance testing by genotyping" and involves genetic analysis of the virus. The results of the test can help physicians prescribe the most effective antiviral drug regimen for each individual patient.

Combinations of RT inhibitors and protease inhibitors have proved highly effective at suppressing HIV replication and improving clinical outcomes. Nevertheless, drug-resistant strains of the virus undermine the clinical progress of may HIV infected patients. Early identification of drug resistance allows PWAs to make timely changes in their treatment regimen. Antiviral resistance testing is also valuable for determining the baseline genetic characteristics of a person's virus before treatment begins. Approximately 10 to 15% of newly infected individuals have acquired a strain of HIV that is already resistant to an antiviral drug, usually AZT.

Ask your doctor about Stanford's Diagnostic Virology Laboratory. A blood sample -- drawn at any clinic, hospital or doctor's office -- can be transported to Stanford by courier service. Test results are returned to the referring physician within two to three weeks.

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This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.