Author(s): Back DJ, Khoo SH, Gibbons SE, Barry MG, Merry C, Back DJ, Khoo SH, Gibbons SE, Barry MG, Merry C
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Abstract The era of antiviral therapy directed against HIV-1 has now entered its second decade. In the twelve years since the FDA approved the first antiretroviral drug zidovudine there have been a number of seminal developments that have revolutionized the approach to therapy. These advances converged to change the treatment paradigm from one of therapeutic nihilism to that of cautious optimism. First, several trials demonstrated that combination therapy of nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) is superior to monotherapy in extending survival and delaying disease progression. Second, the concept of virologic latency in asymptomatic HIV-infected patients was revised. Mathematic modelling demonstrated that there is an ongoing high level of virus production driving a rapid turnover of CD4 cells at all stages of infection. Hence it was concluded that the aim of antiretroviral therapy (ART) should be to "hit early and hit hard." Third, significant advances in molecular virology facilitated the development of quantitative methods to measure the circulating HIV plasma RNA. HIV viral load has been shown to be a sensitive predictor of disease progression and a valuable marker of response to therapy. However, none of these developments would have translated into improved patient care without the advent of two new classes of drugs-the protease inhibitors (PIs) and the nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs).
This article was published in Ther Drug Monit
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research