The current standard of HIV treatment isn't improved by the addition of a fourth drug, a 3-year study concludes. Moreover, after their disease is under control, some patients can maintain health by taking only a single drug, according to a smaller, shorter study.
To keep HIV from replicating, clinicians have over a decade or so changed standard patient therapy from a one-drug regimen to two medications and then to three. Each drug attacks the virus in a different way. Some physicians have argued that adding a fourth drug is the next step, but four-drug clinical trials have been inconclusive.
Now, Roy M. Gulick of Weill Medical College in New York City reports "definitive results" that the four drugs he tested work no better than three. Beginning in 2001, his research team issued the current standard therapy to 382 patients with HIV and a four-drug therapy to 383 others. The fourth drug tested was one of several that counter HIV differently than drugs in the standard the