EuroSIDA News Release:

HIV Deaths in Europe show 84% fall in 2 years

26 November 1998 - Death rates in people with HIV infection in Europe have fallen by over 80% in the past 2 years as a result of the widespread use of combinations of anti-HIV drugs.

This is the conclusion of a pan-European study of over 7000 people who have been monitored regularly since 1994. The study will be published saturday in The Lancet. The study, named EuroSIDA, is co-ordinated in Copenhagen by Dr Jens D. Lundgren who works closely with a statistical team in London headed by Prof Andrew Phillips. The European Commission is the head sponsor of the study.

Treatment of HIV-infected individuals with 2 and 3-drug combinations of antiretroviral drugs has been shown in comparative trials of selected patients to delay the onset of AIDS and to increase

survival. However, the full extent of the impact of such drugs on death rates within Europe had not previously been recognised.

"These findings are very satisfactory not only because of the scientific result, but also because of the fact that lives of many patients have been prolonged", the coordinator of the EuroSIDA project, Dr Jens D. Lundgren said friday.

Antiretroviral drugs are of three main classes - nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors. Each works by reducing the amount of HIV virus replicating within the infected person. Combinations of 3 or more drugs appear to provide greater effects than each drug used alone.

Despite these optimistic results, the group cautions that death rates may well rise again in the future.

Virus levels are not controlled indefinitely by the new drug regimens. Rises in virus levels can be due to drug resistance, inability to continue to take large numbers of pills regularly, adverse events or other factors. "Eventually, these issues will result in a renewed increase in rates of new disease or death. However, the timing of this has not been defined", Jens D. Lundgren said.

For further information on EuroSIDA see the web-side: