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Being Alive
AIDS Said To Be "Very Rare" When Viral Load is Under 5000

November 5, 1997
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 therapies.

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 Valley