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
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: www.chip.suite.dk.