Geneva, Switzerland -- HIV-infected gay men in the United States who want drug therapy for HIV are generally able to get it, but not all of them are immediately jumping on the drug bandwagon, according to a study by University of California San Francisco AIDS researchers.
Many men may be cautiously waiting to see how their disease progresses before committing to a lifetime of a difficult drug regimen, said Ron Stall, PhD, MPH, a research scientist with the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and the UCSF AIDS Research Institute.
Stall presented the study findings here today (July 1) at the 12th World AIDS Conference.
Research results showed 56 percent of 500 randomly selected HIV-infected men surveyed in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco--the cities with the largest gay communities in the United States--were using multiple-drug therapy consisting of a protease inhibitor in combination with other anti-retroviral drugs. The study found no major differences in the rates among the cities.
"What I found surprising was the inability to detect differences based on income or ethnicity," Stall said. "All were in the range of 50 to 60 percent taking combination therapy. This tells me that even low-income gay men can get drugs if they push the system."
One significant finding was the link between individuals using combination therapy and those with advanced HIV infection. The study showed that CD4 T cell counts--which are lower in the later stages of infection because the virus enters these immune cells and kills them--were a very good predictor of who would be on combination therapy, according to Stall. Findings showed 80 percent of persons with CD4 T cell counts of less than 200 were following combination therapy, while only 40 percent of those with counts of more than 500 were on therapy.
Men with counts above 500 may feel like they are doing fine, Stall concluded.
"Many are quite aware what their options are and they have de
Contact: Mitzi Baker
University of California - San Francisco