Nav: Home

Latest anti-retroviral drug regimens provide 'Lazarus Effect' for HIV patients

February 27, 2019

TUCSON, Ariz. - Treatment of the HIV/AIDS epidemic has seen remarkable advancements with the advent of the latest anti-retroviral drug therapy and powerful tools to test for drug resistance, making the infection almost "undetectable" in patients who strictly comply with their medication therapy, a just-published perspective article by a clinical team at the University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson points out.

Lead author Stephen A. Klotz, MD, professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the UA Department of Medicine, adds that in the past, HIV/AIDS patients often suffered from extreme frailty, in effect, often "aging 10 to 15 years" in appearance and function.

But the article, HIV Infection-Associated Frailty: The Solution for Now is Antiretroviral Drugs, published Feb. 25, 2019 in the Journal of the International Association of AIDS Care Providers, notes frailty related to HIV infection is "rapidly becoming a specter of the past." Further, thanks to the new treatments, disfiguring lipodystrophy (changes in body fat that affect some patients) is "a grim historical footnote to the HIV epidemic" in the United States," the authors add.

"We have shown that years of anti-retroviral therapy can return patients to a non-frail state. In addition, prolonged anti-retroviral therapy restores cellular function and numbers of cells adversely affected by HIV," Dr. Klotz says. "Recently we demonstrated a marked improvement in aging markers in HIV patients on long-term anti-retroviral drug therapy."

The team also has employed another major advancement in the treatment of HIV/AIDS: A "Frailty Meter," developed by Bijan Najafi, PhD, MSc, then a professor in the UA Department of Surgery and director of the Consortium on Advanced Motion Performance.

The device now allows clinicians to measure HIV/AIDS patients' frailty in a matter of seconds - whereas in the past frailty measurements often required several clinic visits.

The Frailty Meter detects frailty through a small, Bluetooth-supported motion sensor that attaches to the subject's wrist. In about 20 seconds, it measures subjects' elbow flexes (similar to arm curls) to accurately determine their frailty. (Dr. Najafi now is a professor of surgery and director of clinical research, Division of Vascular Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine.)

Please click here to see B-roll video of the frailty meter being demonstrated by members of the clinical team:

Another major clinical advancement is the ability today to cure the hepatitis C virus infection, which in the past commonly was associated with HIV/AIDS infection, Dr. Klotz points out. "So this other viral scourge is decreasing in prevalence, not only in the general public, but in our HIV patients as well."

Remarkably, today, patients with HIV take a single anti-retroviral pill (which contains three medications) once a day, "with virtually no side effects," Dr. Klotz says, noting in the early 1980s, patients might have taken nearly 20 pills a day, with many suffering severe side effects.

In related research led by co-authors Nicole Bradley, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate in the UA Department of Immunobiology and Nafees Ahmad, PhD, professor in the UA Department of Immunobiology and a member of the UA Cancer Center, the team also is studying specific immune aging markers in HIV patients "and once again is finding improvement in infected patients on continuous long-term anti-retroviral therapy," according to the article.

Co-author Shannon Smith, MBA, manages the Petersen Clinics, part of the UA Department of Medicine's Division of Infectious Diseases. In collaboration with Banner - University Medicine, Petersen Clinics provides clinical care for people living with, or at risk for, HIV. The program provides outpatient care at affordable prices for HIV-infected adults, plus testing, education and counseling services to patients and their families. The program provides biomedical interventions for people at risk for HIV, including Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Non-Occupational Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (nPEP), Smith says. The Petersen Clinics uses a multi-disciplinary team approach to provide patients comprehensive HIV specialty care and is comprised of infectious disease specialists, pharmacists, clinical coordinators, medical case managers and early interventionists.

"We're very proud of the scope of services we provide," Smith says. "We're very creative in ensuring our patients and families obtain the care they need."

About the UA College of Medicine - Tucson

The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson is shaping the future of medicine through state-of-the-art medical education programs, groundbreaking research and advancements in patient care in Arizona and beyond. Founded in 1967, the college boasts more than 50 years of innovation, ranking among the top medical schools in the nation for research and primary care. Through the university's partnership with Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health-care systems in the country, the college is leading the way in academic medicine. For more information, visit

University of Arizona Health Sciences

Related Hiv Articles:

Defective HIV proviruses reduce effective immune system response, interfere with HIV cure
A new study finds defective HIV proviruses, long thought to be harmless, produce viral proteins and distract the immune system from killing intact proviruses needed to reduce the HIV reservoir and cure HIV.
1 in 7 people living with HIV in the EU/EEA are not aware of their HIV status
Almost 30,000 newly diagnosed HIV infections were reported by the 31 European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) countries in 2015, according to data published today by ECDC and the WHO Regional Office for Europe.
Smoking may shorten the lifespan of people living with HIV more than HIV itself
A new study led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital finds that cigarette smoking substantially reduces the lifespan of people living with HIV in the US, potentially even more than HIV itself.
For smokers with HIV, smoking may now be more harmful than HIV itself
HIV-positive individuals who smoke cigarettes may be more likely to die from smoking-related disease than the infection itself, according to a new study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Patients diagnosed late with HIV infection are more likely to transmit HIV to others
An estimated 1.2 million people live with HIV in the United States, with nearly 13 percent being unaware of their infection.
The Lancet HIV: New HIV infections stagnating at 2.5 million a year worldwide
A major new analysis from the Global Burden of Disease 2015 study, published today in The Lancet HIV journal, reveals that although deaths from HIV/AIDS have been steadily declining from a peak in 2005, 2.5 million people worldwide became newly infected with HIV in 2015, a number that hasn't changed substantially in the past 10 years.
NIH scientists discover that defective HIV DNA can encode HIV-related proteins
Investigators from the National Institutes of Health have discovered that cells from HIV-infected people whose virus is suppressed with treatment harbor defective HIV DNA that can nevertheless be transcribed into a template for producing HIV-related proteins.
Study examines risk of HIV transmission from condomless sex with virologically suppressed HIV infection
Among nearly 900 serodifferent (one partner is HIV-positive, one is HIV-negative) heterosexual and men who have sex with men couples in which the HIV-positive partner was using suppressive antiretroviral therapy and who reported condomless sex, during a median follow-up of 1.3 years per couple, there were no documented cases of within-couple HIV transmission, according to a study appearing in the July 12 issue of JAMA, an HIV/AIDS theme issue.
HIV vaccine design should adapt as HIV virus mutates
Researchers from UAB, Emory and Microsoft demonstrate that HIV has evolved to be pre-adapted to the immune response, worsening clinical outcomes in newly infected patients.
Charlie Sheen's HIV disclosure may reinvigorate awareness, prevention of HIV
Actor Charlie Sheen's public disclosure in November 2015 that he has the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) corresponded with the greatest number of HIV-related Google searches ever recorded in the United States, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Related Hiv Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...