Stop AZT

A LEADING specialist told 13,000 apparently healthy people infected with the AIDS virus yesterday that they would be better off without drug therapy.

Professor Tony Pinching, director of immunology at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, urged symptomless HIV-positive individuals to "hang around" after publication of research showing the drug AZT failed to stop the development of AIDS.

Thousands of people are taking AZT, manufactured by Wellcome, in hope of delaying development of the disease, which occurs on average about 10 years after exposure to the virus.

Prof. Pinching said: "The necessity to do something should not be presumed. There may be people who remain well indefinitely; that is still a possibility.

"The situation before the trial was that preliminary data, certainly not conclusive, suggested we could intervene with treatment in symptomless individuals. But we also said it was perfectly appropriate to wait until they became ill before intervening with AZT. It is now clear that AZT is not the answer, and people should hang around until other trials are concluded."

Prof. Pinching added that the latest three-year international study, involving 1,749 people, had "brought us back to earth."

Patricia Wilson in Washington writes: American health officials reacted cautiously to Anglo-French research showing that AZT provides little, if any, benefit. The findings of the European trial run counter to the practice among American AIDS experts of recommending patients infected with the HIV virus to begin taking AZT long before the onset of fully-fledged AIDS.

(Excerpted from The Daily Telegraph, London - 03 April 1993)

Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.

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