One combination of AIDS drugs appears better for starting treatment

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Patients treated with combination of zidovudine, lamivudine and efavirenz were successfully treated for longer period

Combination drug therapy – also called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) – made a huge difference in the treatment of HIV infection during the 1990s, changing HIV/AIDS into an illness that people could live with for many years. Combinations of three antiviral drugs could keep the virus in check for a while, and when one treatment regimen failed to suppress the virus or became too toxic, switching to a different combination often renewed effective viral control. One specific combination of anti-HIV drugs appears to be more effective for initiating therapy than other drug combinations tested in a large multi-institutional study. In two reports appearing in the Dec. 11, 2003 New England Journal of Medicine, teams led by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Stanford University Medical Center, and Harvard School of Public Health reported that, while all of the combinations studied were effective in keeping the virus under control, patients who started therapy with a combination of zidovudine (ZDV, also known as AZT), lamivudine (3TC) and efavirenz (EFV) were successfully treated for a longer period of time. The overall study was carried out through the AIDS Clinical Trial Group, funded by the Division of Acquired Immuneodeficiency Syndrome of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.