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CNN Today

New Study Suggests Women's Bodies Better Able to Hold Down HIV Virus

Aired January 31, 2000 - 1:40 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A new study today on AIDS says women's bodies are better able to hold down the virus that causes AIDS, but women still die from the disease at the same rate as men. The findings may mean women need to be treated differently.

And CNN's Eileen O'Connor says the latest treatments and developments in AIDS research are the focus of a conference this week in San Francisco.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scientists will focus on the latest dilemma in treating AIDS patients. While the use of newly-discovered drugs in combination means having HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is no longer a death sentence, the side effects of these toxic drugs are often debilitating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of good news, but there's also some very sobering aspects of this that really must prompt us to continue to try and find newer drugs that are as potent or more potent, but with considerably less toxicity.

O'CONNOR: Redge Norton uses acupuncture, massage and help from a nutritionist to help him manage the side effects.

REDGE NORTON, SAN FRANCISCO AIDS FOUNDATION: It's really helped to get my appetite back to normal, and I feel more like myself again.

O'CONNOR: His doctor says it works in many of his patients.

DR. BILL OWN, INTERNIST: Patients, when they really have control over their lives and over their disease in some way, I think are, overall, going to do better, regardless of whether that comes from our traditional treatments or a combination of Western medicine plus other alternative approaches.

O'CONNOR: Although new drugs in the pipeline will be discussed, a recurrent theme this week will be giving some patients drug holidays. The idea is to use the medicine to suppress HIV in the body, then stop the drugs, allow the virus to rebound so the immune system sees it, then suppress it again, repeating the process until the immune system learns the virus is an enemy.

Dr. Franco Lori is having good results treating several patients this way.

DR. FRANCO LORI, RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR GENETIC & HUMAN THERAPY: If the immune system can be activated that way, then the immune system will be able to control, eventually, the HIV, as we do daily with other viruses, like herpes virus and others.

O'CONNOR: Experts agree a vaccine for HIV is still years away, but several studies will be presented from early stage trials.

(on camera): In the meantime, there is continuing evidence that many people are becoming complacent about prevention. New infection rate numbers to be presented this week show a constant rise in the African-American community, particularly among women and youth.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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