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AIDS: HIV Therapy Beneficial in Injection Drug Users

Canadian study shows no difference in mortality rates between users and non-users

MONDAY, Aug. 4 (HealthDay News) -- New research dispels the commonly held belief that HIV-infected injection drug users are less likely to benefit from highly active antiretroviral therapy than non-injection drug users, according to the results of a study published in the Aug. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association and presented at AIDS 2008, the International AIDS Conference held Aug. 3 to 8 in Mexico City.

Evan Wood, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of British Columbia and St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, and colleagues compared death rates in 3,116 patients -- including 915 with a history of injection drug use -- who began highly active antiretroviral therapy between 1996 and 2006.

After a mean follow-up of 5.3 years for injection drug users and 4.3 years for non-injection drug users, the researchers found no significant group differences in the cumulative all-cause mortality rate (26.5 percent for injection drug users and 21.6 percent for non-injection drug users). After adjusting for age, sex, baseline AIDS diagnosis, baseline CD4 cell count, adherence and physician experience, they also found no significant group differences in the rates of death.

"Although our findings cannot be generalized outside of [this] cohort, as efforts to improve use of highly active antiretroviral therapy among injection drug users expand, the fact that survival patterns were not significantly different between injection drug users and non-injection drug users should help to challenge the increasingly prevalent belief that injection drug users may be markedly less likely to benefit from highly active antiretroviral therapy," the authors conclude.

Two of the study authors report financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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