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HIV Illness Delayed By Herpes Drug

HIV Illness Delayed By Herpes Drug

The widely-used treatment for herpes helps battle HIV…

New research has shown that the common treatment for herpes, aciclovir, can delay the onslaught of illness from HIV.

The study, involving 3,300 patients in Africa, found that aciclovir was able to reduce the risk of HIV progression by up to 16%.

Although the results were far from a cure, researchers say the modest effect provided a simple solution for HIV patients trying to retain their health.

aciclovir slows hiv HIV Illness Delayed By Herpes Drug

Aciclover Slows HIV

The researchers from the University of Washington, Seattle, concentrated on people infected with HIV-1 the most common type of infection. It is known that most people who are infected with HIV-1 are also infected with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2), more commonly known as genital herpes.
Previous studies have shown that keeping the herpes virus suppressed reduces HIV levels but it was unclear whether this would slow down the disease.

In the trial, the participants were divided into two groups. One group was given a twice daily dosage of aciclovir, the other a placebo.

After monitoring the participants for two years, the results showed that 284 people in group who were given aciclover had either started taking HIV medication, or had died, compared to 324 patients from the placebo group.

Researchers were quick to note that the se of aciclovir treatment did not make the patients less infectious.

The researchers believe that coupling HIV treatment with antiretroviral drugs would probably have a greater effect on reducing HIV disease progression than was seen with aciclovir. But the herpes treatment may provide an additional option for individuals who have not reached medical thresholds for initiating antiretroviral therapy.

Study leader, Dr Jairam Lingappa, said:

Further investigation is needed to establish if suppression of this herpes virus has a role in HIV-1 treatment for people not eligible for antiretroviral therapy.

While the HIV disease ameliorating effect we have observed is modest, it could add one more tool to help people with HIV infection stay healthy for longer.

Gus Cairns, editor of HIV Treatment Update, said:

Its nice to see a positive result in this field. There are biological reasons to believe that treating peoples herpes could make them less likely to acquire HIV, or less likely to transmit it if they already have it, but results of trials testing the idea have been disappointing…

Now at least we find that aciclovir, a very cheap, non-toxic and widely-available drug, can prolong the time some patients may be able to stay off the more expensive, and sometimes toxic, HIV drugs.

He added that the delay in HIV progression seen in the study may translate into a year or two off HIV medications, The only reservation I have is that aciclovir doesnt appear to make people less infectious, whereas the HIV drugs certainly do.

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