Pubdate: Thu, 02 Jul 1998
Source: San Francisco Examiner


Aids Conference Notebook From Examiner Staff And Wire Reports

Delegates at the World AIDS Congress urged that the number of
needle-exchange programs be increased worldwide to halt the rising spread
of the AIDS virus through drug injection.

Poverty and a collapse in drug prices, along with an increase in drug
trafficking and harsh government attitudes in many countries, stand in the
way, they said Wednesday. "The law-and-order approach has not been
successful in eliminating drug use," said Palani Narayan of Thailand-based
group Asian Harm Reduction Network.

A U.N. report last week said that in Malaysia, Vietnam and other countries,
three-quarters of recorded HIV cases were among drug addicts. In the past
two years, four out of five new HIV infections in Russia have been among
the same group, it said.

Drug Treatment Good For The Immune System

Drugs that stop HIV in its tracks may also allow the body's AIDS-wrecked
defenses against disease to rebuild themselves, new research suggests.

"We are now providing proof that indeed the immune system is not dead," Dr.
Brigitte Autran of Pitie Salpetriere Hospital in Paris said Wednesday.

Autran followed 303 patients in very late stages of AIDS. After 18 months
of treatment, their CD4 T cell counts rose from an average of 51 per cubic
millimeter of blood to 194.

About a year into treatment, she also found a rise in so-called naive
cells, newly generated cells that never had been exposed to HIV. This is
considered a good sign that the immune system is returning to its former

"We saw a very strong, very strong but very late, regeneration of naive
cells in every single patient" whose virus levels had plummeted, she said.

Still in doubt, though, is whether the body's immune system is able to
reconstitute itself after AIDS or whether it remains permanently weakened.

1998 San Francisco Examiner Page A 21

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