A combination of anti-HIV drugs appears to help rejuvenate the immune systems of people with AIDS and prevent progression of cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis, a potentially blinding AIDS-related eye complication. A paper detailing these findings is published in the November 3, 1999 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Researchers at the Federal government's National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that all 14 patients with CMV retinitis enrolled in the study who took highly active antiretroviral therapy - called HAART - were able to stop taking their standard anti-CMV medications safely and without progression of their retinitis. The study also suggests that with HAART, the immune system of people with AIDS is being partially restored and may be able to fight other serious infections.
"CMV retinitis is not progressing in patients who are receiving HAART, suggesting that somehow HAART is playing a role in strengthening the immune system," said Dr. Carl Kupfer, director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), which conducted the study in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
"With HAART, the rejuvenated immune system effectively controls this serious infection and doesn't need the help of specific anti-CMV retinitis medications. Stronger immune systems respond better to HIV and other infections, potentially allowing patients to live longer."
"This study indicates another important advantage of potent antiretroviral therapy," said NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci. "We now have clinical evidence that in addition to the rises in CD4+ T cell counts seen in patients taking HAART, there is sustained functional immune recovery to the point that their immune systems can effectively control a major opportunistic infection."
Dr. Kupfer said that HAART, a combination of drugs taken orally, will change clinical practice and lead to a significant improvement in the quality of l
Contact: Mike Coogan
NIH/National Eye Institute