New oral medication halts blindness in AIDS patients

April 24, 2002

A viral infection that robs AIDS patients of their sight can now be fought with a drug in pill form, allowing patients a better quality of life, say the authors of a recent paper in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Prior to this research, physicians treated the infection cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis with a drug called ganciclovir, which was only available intravenously. "Patients had permanent catheters - akin to intravenous lines - inserted into the large veins in the chest," says Dr. Sharon Walmsley of the University of Toronto's medicine department and a senior scientist at the University Health Network (Toronto General Hospital). "They had to self-administer the drug (or with the help of a nurse or other person) once or twice a day for the rest of their lives. It was very inconvenient, made working or travel difficult and patients were prone to infections of the lines resulting in blood infection. Also, patient privacy was compromised as anyone who saw the line immediately knew they were ill."

In clinical trials with 160 AIDS patients, the international team of researchers found the pills, called valganciclovir, to be as effective as the traditional intravenous treatment.

CMV retinitis is the leading cause of blindness among patients in the late stages of AIDS. While the infection originates from a germ or virus to which most people have been exposed, it lies dormant in the general population. However, if a person's immune system is damaged - as in the case of HIV or transplant patients - the virus can reactivate. The incidence of blindness caused by CMV retinitis has dropped considerably, largely due to better HIV treatments. Other investigators are now examining whether the pills are as effective in transplant patients. The research was funded by Roche Pharmaceuticals.
CONTACT: Dr. Sharon Walmsley, Department of Medicine, 204-942-0551 (from April 24 to 28) or 416-340-3871 (from April 29), or Janet Wong, U of T public affairs, 416-978-5949,

University of Toronto

Related HIV Articles from Brightsurf:

BEAT-HIV Delaney collaboratory issues recommendations measuring persistent HIV reservoirs
Spearheaded by Wistar scientists, top worldwide HIV researchers from the BEAT-HIV Martin Delaney Collaboratory to Cure HIV-1 Infection by Combination Immunotherapy (BEAT-HIV Collaboratory) compiled the first comprehensive set of recommendations on how to best measure the size of persistent HIV reservoirs during cure-directed clinical studies.

The Lancet HIV: Study suggests a second patient has been cured of HIV
A study of the second HIV patient to undergo successful stem cell transplantation from donors with a HIV-resistant gene, finds that there was no active viral infection in the patient's blood 30 months after they stopped anti-retroviral therapy, according to a case report published in The Lancet HIV journal and presented at CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections).

Children with HIV score below HIV-negative peers in cognitive, motor function tests
Children who acquired HIV in utero or during birth or breastfeeding did not perform as well as their peers who do not have HIV on tests measuring cognitive ability, motor function and attention, according to a report published online today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Efforts to end the HIV epidemic must not ignore people already living with HIV
Efforts to prevent new HIV transmissions in the US must be accompanied by addressing HIV-associated comorbidities to improve the health of people already living with HIV, NIH experts assert in the third of a series of JAMA commentaries.

The Lancet HIV: Severe anti-LGBT legislations associated with lower testing and awareness of HIV in African countries
This first systematic review to investigate HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression in men who have sex with men in Africa finds that among the most recent studies (conducted after 2011) only half of men have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months.

The Lancet HIV: Tenfold increase in number of adolescents on HIV treatment in South Africa since 2010, but many still untreated
A new study of more than 700,000 one to 19-year olds being treated for HIV infection suggests a ten-fold increase in the number of adolescents aged 15 to 19 receiving HIV treatment in South Africa, according to results published in The Lancet HIV journal.

Starting HIV treatment in ERs may be key to ending HIV spread worldwide
In a follow-up study conducted in South Africa, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have evidence that hospital emergency departments (EDs) worldwide may be key strategic settings for curbing the spread of HIV infections in hard-to-reach populations if the EDs jump-start treatment and case management as well as diagnosis of the disease.

NIH HIV experts prioritize research to achieve sustained ART-free HIV remission
Achieving sustained remission of HIV without life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a top HIV research priority, according to a new commentary in JAMA by experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet HIV: PrEP implementation is associated with a rapid decline in new HIV infections
Study from Australia is the first to evaluate a population-level roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men.

Researchers date 'hibernating' HIV strains, advancing BC's leadership in HIV cure research
Researchers have developed a novel way for dating 'hibernating' HIV strains, in an advancement for HIV cure research.

Read More: HIV News and HIV Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to