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ARV Given To HIV-Positive Children Boosts Preventive Power Of Key Malaria Drug, Study Shows

An antiretroviral (ARV) drug given to HIV-positive children “can boost the preventive power of a key malaria drug,” according to a study conducted in Uganda and presented last week at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, ScienceNow reports. The researchers, led by clinicians Diane Havlir of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Moses Kamya of Makerere University College of Health Sciences, “compare[d] two different cocktails of anti-HIV drugs, only one of which contained protease inhibitors, in HIV-infected children who live in a malarial area of [Uganda]” and found “that one protease inhibitor indeed helped stave off malaria.”

According to the news service, “the trial in Tororo, Uganda, involved 170 children under five who were randomized to receive one of the two combinations of antiretroviral drugs” and “[t]he group that received a drug cocktail containing the co-formulated protease inhibitors lopinavir and ritonavir had a 41 percent drop in malaria cases over two years compared with the group that received the other antiretroviral cocktail.” The news service writes, “‘We always think of drug-drug interactions as something to be avoided, but HIV has taught us the opposite,’ says Paul Volberding, an HIV/AIDS clinician at UCSF, who did not participate in this study but saw its presentation at the conference. ‘This is an intriguing first glimpse at one of these interactions’” (Cohen, 3/14).