Highlights of the 12th World AIDS Conference

Women Taking HAART Still Need Gyn Care

GENEVA, Jul 01 -- According to EARLY results presented at the Geneva Conference, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) does not reduce the incidence of gynecological neoplasias (pre-cancers) or the likelihood of candida (yeast) infection in HIV-infected women. The findings, reported by Dr. Ann Duerr of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are from a multicenter observational study (where scientists watch and document but do not treat) in the U.S.

In their study, Dr. Duerr and colleagues compared 100 HIV-positive women taking antiretroviral therapy, with women who had similar T-cell counts but were not taking antivirals. They looked for the presence or absence of human papilloma virus (HPV -- genital warts) and yeast infections.

Ninety percent of treated women were receiving a protease inhibitor (Crixivan or Norvir) plus two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (Zerit or Epivir); the remainder received other multidrug regimens.

Following the women every 6 months for 2 years, the CDC researchers found that although the treated women showed an increase in CD4 cells, there were no significant differences in pap smear results between the two groups of women.

Similarly, the number of women who developed vaginal candidiasis (yeast) was not significantly different between the HAART and non-HAART groups. However, women on HAART were more likely to respond to treatment for human papilloma virus than those women not receiving antiretroviral therapy. The results suggest that "...women should be monitored for gynecological conditions after initiating HAART," Dr. Duerr concluded.

Get checked for HPV.

"Try it -- you'll like it!" say Australian researchers

GENEVA -- Australian researchers described an "effective" and "easier" triple-drug regimen for HIV-infected patients who have either never been treated with protease inhibitors or have failed protease inhibitor therapy. The new regimen, consisting of Zerit, 80 mg/day, ddI (Videx), 400 mg/day, and Viramune, 400 mg/day, was studied in 8 patients who had never been treated with antiretroviral agents and 36 patients who were switched from a regimen that contained at least one protease inhibitor.

According to the research team, viral load fell below detectable levels in all 8 antiretroviral-naive patients by 22 weeks. In addition, the researchers report, patients' CD4 cell counts increased by an average of 136 after 6 weeks.

Among subjects who had been switched from another regimen, 67% achieved undetectable viral levels, and CD4 cell counts increased by 42 at 6 weeks. Of the 11 patients in whom viral levels were undetectable when they were switched to the new regimen, 73% still had undetectable levels after an average of nearly 20 weeks.

Dr. Pell said, "It's an effective ...and...easy regimen, especially for naive patients who may or may not have problems with the idea of starting protease inhibitors." She explained, "It's much simpler to take...altogether you only have 8 tablets per day, which is low compared to the number of tablets people are taking on other...regimens. Plus, the patients really feel well on this regimen."

She added, "People who have failed protease inhibitors for whatever reason, whether it be for compliance, drug failure, or side effects, would be ideal for this regimen."

Ask your doctor.

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