Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Combination therapy: Haart emerges successful in fighting HIV-TB co-infection

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  In a major relief to people living with human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a team of Indian researchers has found
that a combination of anti-retroviral drugs will help in drastic
reduction of opportunistic infections. Combination of two or more
anti-retroviral drugs will bring down the infection events by as much
as 96.59 per cent.

Combination therapy, also called highly active anti-retroviral therapy
(Haart), not only fights the HIV, but also helps in controlling
opportunistic infections like tuberculosis, oral Candidiasis and
Herpes Zoster. Since HIV brings down the immunity levels, a number of
infections tend to create problems, tuberculosis being the leading
health issue in people living with HIV. Effective delivery of Haart
will help about 30 lakh people living with HIV in the country. The
drugs used under Haart by the National Aids Control Organisation have
been found to be effective in checking opportunistic infections.

The research team led by Dr S Srirangaraj and Dr D Venkatesha has
found that six months of Haart has brought down the infection events
by 96.59 per cent. Moreover, the risk of developing an opportunistic
infection within six months of Haart initiation was only 5.56 per cent.

Stating that there is not much data from India on relative frequencies
of specific opportunistic infections in different regions, they said
the study revealed tuberculosis as the leading co-infection with 53.4
per cent of patients suffering from it. This is followed by oral
Candidiasis in 27.2 per cent, and Herpes Zoster in 14.7 per cent

They emphasized the need for appropriate TB control measures on a
massive scale all over the country to bring down the level of
co-infection in HIV and other immune-suppressed individuals. The
researchers suggested that people diagnosed with HIV and having a CD4
count of less than 200 should be screened for tuberculosis. The
research study revealed that people with a CD4 count of less than 200
are mostly susceptible to TB.

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