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Dis Mon. 1998 Oct;44(10):545-606.

Human immunodeficiency virus infection, Part I.

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1
Department of Medicine, New York Medical College, Valhalla, USA.

Abstract

Initially recognized in 1982, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has been the leading cause of death among young adults in the United States for much of this decade, and it has had a devastating impact on people in the developing world. It is estimated that 42 million people worldwide have been infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS, and that almost 12 million people have died from AIDS-related diseases through 1997. Among these 12 million are 3 million children. Two thirds of the more than 30 million people with HIV or AIDS reside in sub-Saharan Africa. In the United States, 641,086 patients have been diagnosed with AIDS through 1997, and at least 385,000 have died. However, for the first time, new highly active antiretroviral therapies that include multiple drugs that attack the virus at several sites have slowed the progression from HIV to AIDS and from AIDS to death for those infected with HIV. The cumulative effect of these changes has been a reduction in both AIDS incident cases and AIDS deaths. Recent epidemiologic trends indicate that the proportion of AIDS incident cases and new HIV infections are increasing among women, African-Americans, and Hispanics, and the infections are more likely to be acquired through heterosexual transmission. The clinical management of HIV infection and AIDS has become increasingly complex in recent years. In addition to complete medical and social histories and physical examinations, hematologic, biochemical, serologic, and immunologic laboratory tests are required to predict the likelihood that patients will develop opportunistic infections and other complications related to HIV infection. Among the most important laboratory tests are measurements of HIV in plasma (viral load) in conjunction with peripheral blood CD4+ helper T lymphocyte counts. These tests are potent predictors of disease progression and their results have become markers for clinical response to therapy. The development of highly active antiretroviral therapy has had a profound impact on the epidemiology of AIDS and on the lives of individual patients. Through combinations of antiretroviral drugs, especially protease inhibitors, viral suppression can be achieved. However, adherence to these complex medical regimens and drug interactions have been problems for many patients. In addition, numerous questions remain unanswered, most importantly those regarding the timing of the initiation of treatment, the durability of viral suppression and clinical response, and the optimal "salvage" regimens for patients failing therapy either clinically or virologically.

PMID:
9814367
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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