Early Anti-AIDS Treatment Cuts Death Rate in Half

Article excerpt

Byline: Bloomberg News

Prescribing powerful antiviral drugs to patients with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, even as theyAEre being treated for pneumonia or cancer, cuts their death rate, a study found.

In the past, doctors focused first on controlling the AIDS-related illness and delayed prescribing antiviral drugs lest the combination cause side effects or be hard for patients to manage, said Andrew Zolopa, director of the AIDS clinical trial unit at Stanford University School of Medicine.

In the U.S., 60,000 to 70,000 new cases of AIDS are diagnosed each year, and half of the patients have advanced disease, Zolopa said. His findings, published in the journal PlOS One, may resolve a long-running issue in AIDS treatment by showing that patients have a better chance of surviving if theyAEre given antiviral drugs from the start.

Zolopa, lead author of the new study, said he started the research because he was unable to answer a question from doctors at Stanford Hospital. They wondered if they should treat HIV-infected patients with antiviral drugs if they were already being treated for infections like pneumonia or meningitis. These drugs have become the mainstays of AIDS treatment.

"My response was always the same: I donAEt know," said Zolopa. …