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HIV combination therapy offers hope


Combination HIV therapy has resulted in a 5% rise in five-year survival for patients, compared with people who did not undergo the therapy.

The treatment, involving a mixture of powerful AIDS drugs, appears to have reduced the average death rate by half among a group infected with HIV, said researchers in the US.

Combination therapy for infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, vastly improved immune function in patients since it was introduced in 1996.

The test of whether the method saves lives involved examining data relating to 62,760 HIV-infected patients new to the therapy and following them for an average of 3.3 years. Although 2,039 patients died during follow-up, the risk of death was found to be 52% lower in those who adopted combination HIV therapy compared with those who did not.

The combined therapy halved the death rate of HIV-infected individuals in developed countries – data was examined from 12 European and US studies – and the absolute reduction was greater than in those with worse prognosis at the start of follow-up.

The study, by  Dr. Miguel A Hernan, of the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston,  was published in the latest issued of  AIDS journal and says the impact of the combination therapy on overall survival remains unclear.

Copyright Press Association 2010

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