Affordable and effective treatment of HIV
International researchers reported that an anti-AIDS treatment regimen that includes the drug nevirapine was as effective as a treatment regimen with the more expensive drugs.
The clinical trial involved 500 HIV-infected African women who had not previously taken antiretroviral treatment. Half of these women received antiretroviral therapy containing nevirapine and others took antiretroviral therapy containing lopinavir/ritonavir, a more expensive combination.
The study showed that a similar number of women died in each group and each combination was as effective at controlling the level of HIV virus. Besides, similar proportions of women in both treatment groups developed serious drug-related signs and symptoms and laboratory abnormalities.
But whereas 14% of the women in the nevirapine group stopped treatment because they experienced side effects, none of the women in the lopinavir/ritonavir group stopped treatment. Moreover, women in the nevirapine group developed more drug resistance than women in the lopinavir/ritonavir group.
The researchers say: ‘These data support the WHO recommendation of [nevirapine-based treatment] as an initial affordable and effective HIV treatment regimen in resource limited settings, and provide reassurance regarding the efficacy of this regimen. However, these results also underscore the importance of early toxicity monitoring with nevirapine-based regimens.’