HIV/AIDS is still one of the illnesses that can be hardly treated and characterized by a high mortality rate. At present, people diagnosed with this disorder live longer and their quality of life is higher as compared to patients treated decades ago. However, the prevalence of the illness is rather alarming. It has been estimated that approximately one million people living in the United States are diagnosed with HIV-1 or AIDS (Torres & Lewis, 2013). Some of the most common strategies to treat the disease are highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and opioid substitution treatment (OST). This paper includes a brief review of two articles concerned with the effectiveness of these methods.
Strengths and Weaknesses of HAART
The articles in question address the efficacy of HAART in combination with OST and the separate use of highly active antiretroviral therapy. The two studies involve a diverse population with no focus on a specific age group, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, and so on. Nosyk et al. (2015) state that almost 19% of patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS die due to drug-related causes. The researchers also argue that the effectiveness of HAART is increased when it is used in combination with OST. It is stressed that these two types of treatment should be employed jointly to decrease HIV/AIDS patient mortality rates.
It is noteworthy that Nosyk et al. (2015) do not highlight side effects of HAART but concentrate on the negative effects of OST. Torres and Lewis (2013), on the contrary, reveal a serious side effect of this treatment emphasizing that one of the most widespread therapies, HAART, is associated with premature aging. The researchers emphasize that HAART contributes to oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, as well as mitochondrial DNA defects. These features are also associated with aging. However, the authors add that more research is needed to identify particular effects of this treatment as well as possible therapies to replace HAART.
Limitations and Implications
The review of the two articles shows that HAART is considered one of the primary types of treatment that has strengths and weaknesses. It is clear that researchers are concerned with the most effective ways to use the existing therapies. The findings can be the basis for the development of more effective methods. However, there are certain limitations as the studies are characterized by a comparatively small sample, which can affect the generalizability of data. Moreover, the links between the effectiveness of the therapies mentioned above and such variables as ethnicity or age are not identified.
This brief review unveils some peculiarities of the recent research associated with HIV’AIDS treatment. It is noted that HAART is regarded as quite effective, but the mortality rate of people who receive this therapy is still rather high. One of the factors contributing to the mortality rate is the use of opioids. It is also stressed that the use of HAART should be reconsidered as the toxic effects of this treatment have an adverse impact on patients’ quality of life.
At the same time, many issues remain untouched. It can be important to identify the link (if any) between patients’ age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status and the effectiveness of HAART. Another area for further research is related to OST. It is unclear whether all opioid substitution treatments are equally effective. Another question to address is associated with alternatives to HAART.
Nosyk, B., Min, J. E., Evans, E., Li, L., Liu, L., Lima, V. D., … Montaner, J. S. G. (2015). The effects of opioid substitution treatment and highly active antiretroviral therapy on the cause-specific risk of mortality among HIV-positive people who inject drugs. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 61(7), 1157-1165.
Torres, R., & Lewis, W. (2013). Aging and HIV/AIDS: Pathogenetic role of therapeutic side effects. Laboratory Investigation, 94(2), 120-128.