Campus Joins National AIDS Treatment Database

    Campus HIV and AIDS researchers recently announced their participation in a national collaborative information-sharing database on AIDS treatments to better ascertain which ones are most effective.

    The UCSD project is led by adjunct professor of medicine Richard Haubrich and medical researcher Christopher Matthews, both of whom are already members of the UCSD AIDS Research Institute.

    The program measures the effectiveness of treatments for thousands of patients in everyday practice, compared to about 100 selected for clinical trials.

    “This is an ongoing collaboration that we just received permanent funding for,” Haubrich said.

    UCSD had a similar database for several years before it integrated with the national network, at which point initial pilot funding jump-started the program.

    “We received a five-year grant from the [National Institutes of Health] to move forward,” Haubrich said.

    The Owen Clinic, which works with over 2,600 patients, is the base site at UCSD for the database that communicates with the network.

    Due to the variations through which HIV manifests, keeping record of individual patients’ responses to treatments is key.

    These kinds of trials are conducted on a short-term basis. While this information may be useful in starting treatments, doctors say that they need more information on long-term benefits and side effects.

    New antiretroviral drugs have allowed HIV-infected patients to live longer, although high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other ailments are becoming more apparent, according to The New York Times.

    The network connects seven sites: UCSD, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Harvard University in Boston, John Hopkins University in Baltimore, UC San Francisco and the University of Washington in Seattle.

    According to Times, an additional $2.45-million grant from both the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute can cover up to five additional centers.

    Participating patients will be asked to answer questions about their symptoms, body image and adherence to medication regimens at waiting-room kiosks at each center.

    They will then be asked to give blood samples for laboratory testing to determine whether they were taking medication as prescribed and stated by their physicians.

    Computers can make calculations to determine which treatments have the best chances of working, based on what has helped other patients with similar problems, according to the Times.

    In 1996, the UC Board of Regents established the ARI, housed within the UCSD School of Medicine, to coordinate AIDS research at UCSD.

    In this year’s “Best Graduate Schools” edition of U.S. News and World Report, the UCSD’s HIV/AIDS program ranked sixth in the nation.

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