TREAT Asia Annual Meeting Focuses on Data Collection, Drug Resistance
600 patients already enrolled in Observational Database
January 2004—Clinicians and researchers from 22 TREAT Asia sites across the region gathered in Kuala Lumpur for the third annual TREAT Asia meeting, October 2-4, 2003.
TREAT Asia delegates heard presentations from participating sites in the region.
Welcomed by the Honorable Marie Huhtala, U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, and amfAR Board member Dr. Mervyn Silverman, participants heard about progress in two key areas–creating an HIV/AIDS observational database and monitoring drug resistance in Asia.
Dr. Matthew Law, head of the Biostatistics and Databases Program at the University of New South Wales, reported that data from nearly 600 patients across the TREAT Asia network had already been collected. Information gathered includes methods of treatment, profiles of patient populations, opportunistic infection incidence, and causes of death.
Electronic data transfers from participating sites will happen twice yearly, and the first significant data release will likely come at the 15th International AIDS Conference in Bangkok in July 2004. That crucial information will be translated into more effective research programs and treatment delivery, and will ultimately lead to saving more lives.
As more of Asia gains access to treatment, an increasing challenge will be to minimize the development of resistance to current antiretroviral (ARV) therapies. At an international conference in November, Chinese officials reported that one in five patients on ARV treatment abandoned the therapy after just 7 months. With nearly one million people infected with HIV in China, such treatment abandonment, which contributes to drug resistance, is a potentially dangerous development.
Dr. Donald Sutherland of the World Health Organization told participants that monitoring drug resistance in Asia was critical to the success of his organization’s plan to have three million people on ARV treatment by the end of 2005, and he hoped TREAT Asia would play a role in that surveillance. A program to monitor drug resistance, a planned element of the TREAT Asia initiative, will be the subject of a proposal to be produced within six months.
In other meeting sessions, Dr. Kyle Webster, Vice President of Science and Technology for Becton Dickinson Biosciences, informed participants on the use of CD4 measurements for delivering treatment effectively and economically. CD4 tests are an important tool in maintaining the balance between conserving scarce treatment resources and treating patients in time to keep them healthy.
The Education and Training Committee presented a curriculum on treatment access and clinical care and proposed translating it into local languages with supplemental content specific to local and national concerns. The Public Policy Committee identified areas for advocacy, including clinical research, providing treatment to migrants, and the need for voluntary counseling and testing centers.
The next full TREAT Asia meeting will take place in Kunming, China, in October, 2004.