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Wednesday 14 April 2010

HIV pill advances too slow says Body Positive

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News, HIV
By Daily News staff - 21st January 2010

The approval of a once a day dose for an important HIV medication is a step forward but has been too long coming in New Zealand, according to an HIV positive people's support organisation.

Body Positive Auckland has welcomed the January 1st start of funding of a high dosage version of Kaletra, a front-line HIV drug, which will enable it to be taken just once daily, in combination with other drugs, to keep HIV at bay. Single-dose Kaletra has been available in third world nations, under the brand name Aluvia, for several years, notes Body Positive's Bruce Kilmister.

Kilmister says the new Kaletra pill is helpful but there are other advances which are also needed, such as a triple drug pill "which is not likely to happen here for some time."

HIV treatment specialists are also understood to be urging Medsafe and Pharmac to approve four-drug combinations for use and funding in New Zealand. Currently only three HIV drugs at a time are funded by Pharmac, but specialists see advantages in prescribing four drugs. Each HIV drug works against the virus in different ways and the greater the number of drugs ranged against the virus the greater chance there is of reducing HIV's phenomenal replication rate to levels which the body can handle and remain healthy.

Meanwhile, New Zealanders with HIV are about to be asked to participate in a two-year long trial into HIV drug effectiveness. "This is a trial comparing two different treatment regimens following failure of the patient's first HIV treatment regimen," says noted HIV specialist Mark Thomas of Auckland Public Hospital. Body Positive says the research will be highly valuable in the fine tuning of HIV medication usage.

With its relatively small population of HIV positive people compared to larger nations, New Zealand is rarely involved in such projects. Daily News staff - 21st January 2010

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