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Research: More are faithful to ARV drugs

 Antiretroviral drugs.  (Photo: Courtesy)

With antiretroviral drugs and patients' persistence in taking them, HIV has become a manageable chronic condition.

A study by Brown University that examined a national sample showed that the median duration of persisting with treatment increased by more than 50 per cent between 2001 and 2010.

"This shows that a lot of people are not dying or infecting others," said Ira Wilson, corresponding author of the study and chairperson of the Health Services Policy and Practice Department.

Very real benefits

Dr Wilson said the differences represent tremendous and very real benefits.

Graduate student Bora Youn led the research that tracked 43,598 HIV patients in 14 states over the decade.

Persistence refers to the time from starting treatment to discontinuing it. The study also compared those rates to persistence with medications for other chronic conditions among thousands of patients without HIV-infection.

Between 2001 and 2003, half of the patients stopped taking HIV medications 24 months after starting them, but between 2004 and 2006 the period of persistence reached 35.4 months.

In the final study period, 2007-2010, more than half the patients were still taking the medications, therefore the median had not been reached.

"Some studies have shown a similar trend but they have been based on data from individual clinics. This study is the first to show progress among a broad-based, low-income population," Wilson said.

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