Pharmacists in Wales have conducted a new study into the health-related quality of life for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients. The surprising results were revealed at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester.
The research involved 103 HIV outpatients in Cardiff and was conducted jointly by the Welsh School of Pharmacy, the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff University and the University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd.
New HIV treatments have dramatically reduced deaths amongst HIV patients. However, although HIV has been transformed into a chronic state, the downside of the new treatments is their increased risk of toxicity. It is recognised by the health service that improving patients' quality of life should be an intrinsic part of HIV treatment. However, there have been very few clinical-studies of HIV patients to assess their quality of life and factors affecting this.
This Welsh study interestingly found that asymptomatic patients, and those not using antiretroviral therapy, had a lower quality of life score (more impaired) than AIDS patients. This finding contradicts previous research, which found that patients with AIDS had lower quality of life scores than asymptomatic patients. The results also suggest that antiretroviral therapy may improve patient quality of life, however, this requires further investigation in a control study.
Pharmacist Dr Sam Salek at the Welsh School of Pharmacy, Centre for Socio-economic Research, who led the study, says that health-related quality of life is an important factor for HIV patients in view of its chronicity and potential treatment toxicity. "Further research is needed to investigate patient quality of life at different time intervals and longitudinally," he says.