Being Alive 1997 Nov 5: 12
Findings from a German study presented at ICAAC indicate that
when HIV RNA levels are detectable but no higher than 5,000
copies/mL, progression to AIDS is "very rare."
The focus of the session was the correlation of clinical
outcomes with various levels of HIV suppression. Dr. Schlomo
Staszewski of J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt studied data
on 1593 HIV+ patients participating in six trials of various
Of the 195 patients who developed AIDS within one year, 188
(96%) did not have a reduction in viral load to less than 5,000
copies/mL. On the other hand, among the 323 individuals who
sustained a viral load of less than 5,000, only 7 (2%) had an
AIDS defining event. "The HIV RNA level required to prevent
progression to AIDS," Dr. Staszewski concluded, "may be higher
than that required to delay the emergence of drug resistance."
When asked if this meant that untreated HIV+ patients with
viral loads below 5,000 may not require treatment, Dr.
Staszewski could not concur. "We are not talking about natural
history here," he said. "The aim of treatment is still clearly
to reduce RNA to undetectable levels."
Reprinted from We The People with HIV/AIDS of the Delaware