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Drug Combo Restores T-Cells to "Normal" Levels in Some HIV Patients

Researchers reported that "optimal patients" responding to a cockatail of at least three drugs had their immune cells known as CD4 T-cells restored to normal levels, Reuters reports:

Cd4tcells_2"The study involved 1,835 HIV-infected people drawn from a larger study involving more than 14,000 patients from across Europe, Israel and Argentina. 'I think it's very encouraging that if people can respond to treatment well enough and can suppress the virus for long enough, we have sufficient evidence to say their CD4 counts can return to normal,' Dr. Amanda Mocroft of Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, one of the researchers, said in a telephone interview. 'Our previous understanding was that there was a plateau in CD4 counts so that CD4 counts would stop increasing after a sufficiently long time taking combination therapy,' she added."

Mocroft called the findings "a best case scenario," noting that not all HIV patients respond well to the drugs and also pointing out that those in poverty-stricken areas do not even have access.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, "credited Mocroft's team for documenting this phenomenon in a systematic way."

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  1. The full paragraph about Fauci from the Reuters story:

    "Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said doctors who care for HIV-infected patients have noticed this restoration of normal levels of CD4 cells in some of them. Fauci credited Mocroft's team for documenting this phenomenon in a systematic way."

    can best be summed up as "This is news?"

    Reuters' piss-poor news judgment when it comes to HIV continues to astound.

    Posted by: 24play | Jul 19, 2007 10:34:20 AM


  2. which 3 drugs? what do they consider "normal" cd4 count?

    i take norvir, reyataz, ddi and truvada. 480 CD4 @ 22% , viral load <50. i'd like to see my CD4's up some more but, after being down to 13 in 2003, i ain't bitcin'.

    Posted by: psgoodguy | Jul 19, 2007 11:05:55 AM


  3. PS, from my understanding of the Reuters report, it sounds like the researchers weren't studying a particular drug combination, so there is no Holy Grail here.

    They simply combed through the records of 1,800 people involved in a much larger (14,000-person) study and determined that some people who are having good success with a HAART regimen, as shown by their very low viral load, had their CD4 counts reach (and maintain) normal levels.

    Without access to the published report on the study in Lancet, we don't know:

    1) what range of CD4 counts qualified as "normal," or

    2) what criteria they used for selecting the 1,800 people from the 14,000 in the larger study.

    But I suspect the 1,800 people involved may have been THE 1,800 out of 14,000 who had extremely low or undetectable levels of virus.

    So, really all this study did was document that SOME people whose HAART is suppressing their virus to minimal levels can expect to see their CD4 counts to return to levels normal in people without HIV. And really, any HIV doctor could have told you, based on his own patients' histories, that that is the case.

    I think all this "study" did was document that fact statistically. A slightly more useful study would now go on to try and determine what factors, if any (which drug combos? CD4 or HIV levels at start of treatment? lowest CD4 levels? efficacy of first treatment? number of regimens tried? underlying genetic factors? etc.)

    Posted by: 24play | Jul 19, 2007 12:34:12 PM


  4. i take one pill a day, called Atripla. my VL has been undetectable since i started on this regimen (back when it was 3 pills) in 2003, and my CD4's have never been below 1000. i think that although there are certainly some patients who do NOT respond well to current treatments, most people with HIV...if following the medication schedule regularly, balance their meds with healthy living, and have a 2 way relationship with their healthcare provider...respond very well to treatment.

    Posted by: david | Jul 19, 2007 6:11:47 PM


  5. This is most definitely NOT news. There are, and have been since the introduction of HAART, many, many HIV-positive people who have normal CD4 counts or who have had below-normal counts return to normal. Their drug regimens vary. This is, however, it must be stressed, hardly universal.

    Posted by: edfu | Jul 20, 2007 6:38:07 AM


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