Australia: New Hope for HIV Sufferers
July 28, 2008
In a year-long multinational study, most HIV patients with triple-class drug resistance who had been failing therapy achieved an undetectable viral load by taking raltegravir in combination with other HIV drugs, researchers report. In the study, 61.8 percent of those taking Merck & Co.'s HIV integrase inhibitor achieved less than 50 HIV-1 RNA copies/mL. And just 0.9 percent of 700 patients receiving the twice-daily pills stopped taking them due to side effects.
"It's amazing," said Professor David Cooper, study co-author and director of Australia's National Center for HIV and Epidemiology. "These people have been taking drugs for years and have never had undetectable levels of the virus," he said. "Having said that, it has only worked for 60 percent of people, so it doesn't work for everyone."
"The drug has a different mechanism of action to drugs we've seen in the past, is very potent and seems safe," said Cooper. "It's a very important development in the field."
"Until recently, there has been no other option for these people, so they would generally just get sick and die," said Professor Sharon Lewis, director of The Alfred Hospital's infectious-disease unit in Melbourne. "This drug has had a dramatic impact on their quality of life and predicted lifespan."
Trials of the drug among patients whose HIV is not yet drug-resistant are also underway, said Lewis.
The report, "Raltegravir with Optimized Background Therapy for Resistant HIV-1 Infection," was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2008;359(4):339-354).
The Age (Melbourne)
7.24.2008; Julia Medew
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.