At the third International Conference on Drug Therapy in HIV Infection in Birmingham, England, researchers from the Netherlands reported they no longer could detect HIV in the tonsils of six HIV-infected patients who were treated for six months with a combination of the antiretroviral drugs ritonavir, zidovudine and lamivudine.
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the national Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), comments:
These findings are encouraging, and provide further evidence that certain combinations of anti-HIV drugs can markedly reduce HIV replication and viral burden, in this case in the tonsils, part of the body's lymphatic system. The current report builds on previous short-term studies demonstrating that combination therapy can dramatically reduce levels of virus in the bloodstream of some HIV-infected people."
It is important to understand, however, that we do not yet know whether HIV is still present in other sanctuaries within the body, even when it is undetectable in the blood and lymphoid organs. In addition, the extent to which HIV persists in a latent form within cells during therapy is not known."
The current study should be considered another important step forward. However, we cannot yet speak of a cure. Longer-term studies are necessary to determine if the promising short-term effects of combination therapies can be sustained over a period of years. Ultimately, it will be necessary to determine if the virus remains undetectable following cessation of therapy."
NIAID is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIAID conducts and supports research to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, asthma, and allergies. NIH is an agency of the Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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