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Is the clinical treatment of HIV-2 different from that of HIV-1? continued...

Monitoring the treatment response of patients infected with HIV-2 is more difficult than monitoring people infected with HIV-1. No FDA-licensed HIV-2 viral load assay is available yet. Viral load assays used for HIV-1 are not reliable for monitoring HIV-2. Response to treatment for HIV-2 infection may be monitored by following CD4+ T-cell counts and other indicators of immune system deterioration, such as weight loss, oral candidiasis, unexplained fever, and the appearance of a new AIDS-defining illness. More research and clinical experience is needed to determine the most effective treatment for HIV-2.

The optimal timing for antiretroviral therapy (i.e., soon after infection, when symptoms appear, or when CD4+ T cell counts fall below a certain level) remains under review by clinical experts. Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, by the Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Clinical Practices for Treatment of HIV Infection, may be helpful to the clinician who is caring for a patient infected with HIV-2; however, the recommendations on viral load monitoring and the use of NNRTIs would not apply to patients with HIV-2 infection. Copies of the guidelines are available from the CDC National Prevention Information Network (1 800 458-5231) and from its Web site ( The guidelines also are available from the HIV/AIDS Treatment Information Service (1 800 448-0440; Fax 301 519-6616; TTY 1 800 243-7012) and on the ATIS Web site (

What is known about HIV-2 infection in children?

HIV-2 infection in children is rare. Compared with HIV-1, HIV-2 seems to be less transmissible from an infected mother to her child. However, cases of transmission from an infected woman to her fetus or newborn have been reported among women who had primary HIV-2 infection during their pregnancy. Zidovudine therapy has been demonstrated to reduce the risk for perinatal HIV-1 transmission and also might prove effective for reducing perinatal HIV-2 transmission. Zidovudine therapy should be considered for HIV-2-infected expectant mothers and their newborns, especially for women who become infected during pregnancy.

How should physicians and patients decide whether to start treatment for HIV-2?

Physicians caring for patients with HIV-2 infection should decide whether to initiate antiretroviral therapy after discussing with their patients what is known, what is not known, and the possible adverse effects of treatment.

What can be done to control the spread of HIV-2?

Continued surveillance is needed to monitor HIV-2 in the U.S. population because the possibility for further spread of HIV-2 exists, especially among injecting drug users and people with multiple sex partners. Programs aimed at preventing the transmission of HIV-1 also can help to prevent and control the spread of HIV-2.


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