Treatment


There is no cure for AIDS at this time. However, treatments are available that can improve the quality of life of those suffering the infection. Anti–viral therapy suppresses the replication of the HIV infection in the body. Retrovir, also called Zidovudine or AZT, is an anti–viral agent most frequently used in the treatment of AIDS. Saquinavir, manufactured under the trade name Invirase, has recently been approved by the FDA for use in the treatment of AIDS. It is the first to be approved in a new group of drugs claimed to be 10 times stronger than existing anti–virals used in AIDS treatment. Other anti–viral agents are in investigational stages. Hematopoietic stimulating factors are sometimes used to treat anemia and low white blood cell counts associated with AIDS. Preventive measures to avoid opportunistic infections such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia is possible with medications and can keep AIDS patients healthier for longer periods of time. Opportunistic infections are treated as they occur. The emotional stress of devastating illnesses can often be helped by joining support groups where members share common experiences and problems. NOTE: Elisa/Rapid test for HIV diagnosis is being carried out in many Centres all over the country. Further, all Microbiology departments in Government medical colleges will be providing HIV testing facilities and will be known as Voluntary Blood Testing Centres. Goals of Therapy Clinical goals Prolongation of life and improved quality of life. Virological goals Reduction in viral load as much as possible (<20 c/ml) for as long as possible to:
  • Halt disease progression.
  • Prevent/reduce resistant variants.
Immunological goals Achieve immune reconstitution that is antitative (CD–4 count in normal range) and qualitative (pathogen–specific immune response). Therapeutic goals Rational sequencing of drugs in a fashion that achieves virological goals, but also:
  • Maintains therapeutic options.
  • Is relatively free of side–effects.
  • Is realistic in terms of probability of adherence.
Epidemiological goals Reduce HIV transmission.