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HIV suppression not as good as previously thought, largest study of viral-load blood tests show
Date:7/22/2012

Tens of thousands of Americans taking potent antiretroviral therapies, or ART, to keep their HIV disease in check may not have as much control over the viral infection as previous estimates have suggested, according to results of a study by AIDS experts at Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania.

In what is believed to be the largest and longest review of viral load test results in people with HIV disease ever performed in the United States, researchers found that the number of people sustaining viral suppression consistently, at 400 or less viral copies per milliliter of blood, year after year is roughly 10 percent less than previous estimates. The team's findings are set to appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association online July 25. The publication is timed to coincide with the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.

According to senior study investigator and infectious disease specialist Kelly Gebo, M.D., M.P.H., the team's latest findings underscore just how difficult it is to successfully treat HIV disease and prevent its spread even when people are taking effective ART. Gebo says that "if we are not fully suppressing the virus as much as we thought, then we are not fully preventing and reducing the likelihood of HIV transmission, either." Some 426,000 of the estimated 1.2 million Americans infected with the virus that causes AIDS are taking ART and are under the routine care of a physician.

Gebo says that, overall, while ART has improved significantly within the last decade, with once-a-day pill regimens replacing more complicated, multidrug schedules, "our study findings suggest that physicians and other health care providers still need to do more to promote drug adherence among our patients, and make sure people take their antiretroviral therapies as prescribed."

Without that extra effort, she says, "More people are potentially at risk of becoming infected with HIV
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Contact: David March
dmarch1@jhmi.edu
410-955-1534
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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