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New Guidelines on How to Treat HIV

Recommendations Shoot for 'Home Run' Against HIV Virus

Less AIDS Monitoring Needed continued...

The guidelines continue to recommend starting people newly infected with HIV on a three-drug cocktail of the oldest class of HIV drugs -- called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors -- combined with either a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor or a protease inhibitor. But once treatment starts, "we suggest doing a little less monitoring than was advocated in the past," Vella tells WebMD. "It's getting a little psychotic," with some people coming in every few days to find out if their drugs are suppressing the virus, she says.

The guidelines now suggest that HIV blood levels be checked every four to eight weeks until the virus is undetectable and then only three to four times a year. CD4 counts should be checked along with HIV blood levels.

Roy M. Gulick, director of the HIV Clinical Trial Unit at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, tells WebMD he welcomes the new guidelines.

"Given the amount of information available and the continuing progress being made by the research community, it's really a challenge to keep up with all the innovations," he says. The guidelines streamline the process, "giving a really good sense of the field and helping to move treatment forward," Gulick says.

The guidelines also appear in a special issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

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