A new study has found that combination of two drugs sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) and ribavirin, which is used for treating people with hepatitis C virus (HCV), is very efficient in curing HIV positive people.
Mark Sulkowski, MD, of Johns Hopkins University, and colleagues carried an open-label nonrandomized trial to analyse the efficacy of the drug combination in treating the HIV combination. According to the scientist, sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) and ribavirin had HCV cure rates ranging between 67 percent and 94 percent.
While addressing the International AIDS Conference, Sulkowksi and his fellow researchers said that the drug combination had no side effects on HIV patients.
Hailing the new findings, Turner Overton, MD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said, “This is a “very exciting” finding which opens new doors to the treatment of co-infected patients.”
He further said, “It included a directly acting antiviral, sofosbuvir, and ribavirin without interferon.”
According to the researchers, the drug combination had awesome results on HIV patients as it was well tolerated and had very high cure rates.
About 7 million people worldwide are infected with both HCV and HIV viruses. Liver disease has become a leading cause of death for people with HIV.
The researchers evaluated rates of SVR12 (a serum HCV level of fewer than 25 copies per milliliter 12 weeks after the end of therapy), which is considered to be the cure of HCV.
Adverse events of 223 patients of HIV and genotypes 1, 2, or 3 of HCV, were also studied. The HCV patients were treated for 12 or 24 weeks depending on the genotype.
Those on antiretroviral therapy had a plasma viral load of no more than 50 copies of HIV RNA per milliliter and a CD4-positive T-cell count of more than 200 cells per microliter.
Those who never had antiretroviral therapy gone with a CD4 T-cell count of more than 500 cells per microliter.
- Patients with no previous HCV treatment:
76 percent of the 114 patients with genotype 1 achieved an SVR12 in comparison to 88 percent of the 26 patients with genotype 2, and 67 percent of the 42 with genotype 3.
- Previously treated patients:
92 percent of 24 patients with genotype 2 and 94 percent of the 16 patients with genotype 3 achieved SVR12.
- Seven patients (i.e. 3 percent) stopped HCV treatment because of adverse events like fatigue, headache, nausea insomnia.
- 34 patients had their hemoglobin fall to less than 10 milligrams per deciliter
- 3 patients experienced decreases to less than 8.5.
- 43 patients (19 percent) required the dose of ribavirin reduced.
- 32 patients(14 percent) saw elevations of total bilirubin to higher than 3.0 milligrams per deciliter.
The best part was that the researchers witnessed no untoward effects on HIV disease or its treatment.
However, the study had certain limitations as the researchers have found that not all HCV genotypes were included in the study.
According to the researchers, the study included lesser number of people with cirrhosis. Also, very few women were included in the trial.
The study was published in July 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.