HIV Measurement Appears To Be Less Reliable Than Thought

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HIV Treatment and Measurement

Preliminary research indicates that the initial HIV RNA level in untreated HIV-infected patients appears to have little value in predicting the rate of CD4 cell count decrease, potentially limiting its clinical value concerning the decision of when to begin antiretroviral therapy in an individual, according to a study in the September 27 issue of JAMA.

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Depletion of CD4 cells is a characteristic of progressive human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease and a powerful predictor of the short-term risk of progression to AIDS, according to background information in the article. Blood levels of HIV are also thought to predict HIV disease progression risk. In addition to their role as predictors of the clinical outcomes of HIV infection, CD4 cell count and plasma HIV RNA level are commonly used as markers of the success of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Until this study was completed, however, the degree to which blood levels of HIV could predict the rate of CD4 cell loss in HIV-infected individuals with similar demographic characteristics to those seen in clinical practice was unclear.

To address this question, Benigno Rodr

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