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AIDS study challenges conventional treatment guidelines for HIV patients

A newly published study by investigators at the Center for AIDS Research at Case Medical Center, led by Benigno Rodríguez, MD, along with a nationwide team of AIDS/HIV experts, strongly challenges conventional thinking about the role of measurements of the amount of HIV particles in the blood as a method of predicting a patient's ability to fight off the disease. The study, published in the current issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), indicates that the amount of HIV in a patient's blood (commonly known as the viral load) is much less reliable as a tool for determining the rate at which he or she will lose infection-fighting CD4 cells than previously thought.

HIV targets CD4 cells, a type of white blood cell, and as they decline after HIV infection, the complications that characterize the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) become more common. These study results showed that the viral load explains only about 5% of the variation from person to person in the rate of CD4 cell loss. Thus, CD4 depletion cannot be viewed as a simple consequence of the amount of virus circulating in the blood.

"The results of this nationwide study may have profound implications in our understanding of how HIV causes disease and in our approach to the management of HIV-infected patients," says Dr. Rodriguez, infectious disease specialist at the Case Medical Center, a partnership of University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "We hope that this study will provide impetus for a more thorough understanding of the mechanisms of HIV-induced damage to the immune system and for the design of strategies to block those mechanisms."

In the study, entitled Predictive Value of Plasma HIV RNA Level on Rate of CD4 T Cell Decline in Untreated HIV infection, Dr. Rodríguez and his colleagues report the results of analyses conducted on two large cohorts of HIV-infected patients who were not receiving treatment for HI
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Source:University Hospitals of Cleveland


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