Even in an era of HAART Drugs, HIV patients are vulnerable to opportunistic infections

SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite the effectiveness of antiretroviral drugs, HIV patients are still very vulnerable to opportunistic infections, according to new research by AIDS specialists at the University of California, San Francisco.

This vulnerability has important implications for developing optimum treatment strategies, the UCSF researchers emphasize.

In presentations at the Interscience Conference on Anti-Microbial Agents and Chemotherapy here today (September 27), the researchers reported study findings on two different infections common in HIV patients and how they relate to highly active antiretroviral therapy, known as HAART.

There is only limited information on the impact of HAART on AIDS-related opportunistic infections because it is still a recent treatment approach. Initiated three years ago, HAART uses a combination of powerful drugs, including protease inhibitors and reverse transcriptase inhibitors, to subdue HIV infection and give the body the chance to increase its supply of infection-fighting CD4+ T-cells that are destroyed by HIV.

One of the new research reports focused on the incidence of cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis, a serious eye disease that can lead to blindness. The second looked at development of drug resistance in the respiratory tract of HIV patients who underwent prophylaxis therapy to prevent a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC), which causes serious illness that ultimately leads to wasting and death if untreated.

Findings from the CMV research were both good and bad, said Mark Jacobson, MD, lead investigator and a UCSF associate professor of medicine who treats patients at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center.

An objective of the study was to look at the natural history and outcome of new AIDS-related CMV retinitis cases, both before and during HAART. The study included HIV patients with newly diagnosed retinitis between 1994-1999.

"On the positive side, the inciden

Contact: Corinna Kaarlela
University of California - San Francisco

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