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October 17, 1997     Cape Gazette
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October 17, 1997

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CAPEGAZETTE, Friday, October 1- October 23;-1997 - 37 Drug failures misleading: new AIDS drugs still worl( By Kerry Kester Fear that new AIDS drugs, called protease inhibitors, are beginning to show signs of wide- spread failure among patients and speeding them toward their deaths, is unfounded, said Scott Olewiler, M.D., infectious disease specialist at Beebe Medical Cen- ter. The protease inhibitors, entered into the standard of care early last year, showed that when used in three-drug "cocktails," most patients would show a dramatic drop in their viral loads. Essen- tially, he said, the drug combina- tions confused the virus. Shortly after the protease inhibitors, usually also used with drugs such as AZT, began to be used on a large scale, data on their success showed that most patients were able to resume normal activ- ities, and their long-term prog- noses became filled with hope for much longer lives. Recently, the media has report- ed that those new drugs are now beginning to fail and that patient viral loads are again rising. Olewiler said that those reports are extremely misleading and are no cause for fear. The drugs, said Olewiler, "are a tempo- rary fix. At some point, the virus will develop a resis- tance to those drugs." How- ever, he said, OLEWlLER that does not mean that when the resistance begins, no other treatment is available and hope is lost. "What you do is stay one step ahead of the virus," said Olewiler. "The question is how long will they last, and nobody knows the answer. There's going to come a point where any individual patient will have to shift their medica- tions." However, said Olewiler, new drugs are constantly being devel- oped and put onto the market. "There are currently I 1 different viral drugs licensed to treat HIV infection, with a 12th drug in lim- ited access already," said Olewil- er. "A standard three-drug regimen has been shown to decrease the viral load to undetectable amounts in 90 percent of people, lasting at least a full year, a recent study showed," he said. "How long after that a single cocktail will continue to work is unknown, but eventual breakthrough of viral resistance will occur, perhaps two or three years later." At that point, said Olewiler, a different drug cocktail is in order. The new combination will again confuse the virus, and the AIDS patient will continue to benefit from the medications. For infor- mation about AIDS, contact the Centers for Disease Control's National AIDS Hotline, 1-800- 342-AIDS. New book helps people overcome weaknesses and conquer addictions Emmet L. Billroy Publishers, Inc., has just released the first vol- ume in an inspiring new series of books titled, "How To Stay Away From Lust One Day at a Time," dealing with addiction. 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