Johns Hopkins Gazette: July 25, 1994

By Marc Kusinitz

A drug used to treat herpes infections can significantly
prolong the lives of AIDS patients already taking AZT.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins and three other institutions
published the results of the study in the July 15 issue of
_Annals of Internal Medicine_. 
     Individuals who took the anti-herpes drug acyclovir after
developing AIDS had a 44 percent decreased risk of dying. 
     "This is the first time we've had really good news about
survival with AIDS since AZT became available," said Neil M.H.
Graham, associate professor of epidemiology at the School of
Public Health and an author of the paper.
     "Not only does the study suggest acyclovir prolongs
survival in AIDS patients, but the dose needed appears to be no
more than that required to suppress a herpes simplex
infection," said Daniel Stein, director of Albany Medical
Center's clinical pharmacology studies unit and senior author
of the paper.
     The researchers found that the longer acyclovir was used
without interruption, the more strongly it was associated with
increased survival; acyclovir did not, however, delay the onset
of AIDS in men who were HIV-positive.
     For men who started acyclovir one year after developing
AIDS, 93.9 percent survived for two years, compared with 86.2
percent who never used acyclovir. For men who started acyclovir
only after their CD4 cell count fell below 50 cells per
milliliter, the two-year survival was 69.8 percent compared
with 31.4 percent among those who never used acyclovir.
     The study included 786 HIV-positive men in the Multicenter
AIDS Cohort Study, a long-term study of HIV infection in more
than 5,000 homosexual and bisexual men. All 786 HIV-positive
men in the study began taking AZT before being diagnosed with
AIDS. Among them, 488 subsequently took the anti-herpes drug
acyclovir either to treat herpes infections or AIDS or HIV-1.
Of these, 242 used acyclovir only to treat AIDS or HIV-1

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