We've told you before about the successful use of oxymetholone - an oral anabolic steroid sold under such trade names as Anadrol-50 and Anapolon - in the treatment of the wasting syndrome associated with AIDS. But while oxymetholone appears effective, it's considered one of the
more toxic anabolic steroids, particularly because of the possible negative effects long-term use has on the liver. The fact that oxymetholone worked, however, must have intrigued other scientists, because several new studies have appeared recently that show an increased
acceptance of using anabolic steroids for treating and possibly prolonging the lives of AIDS patients.
For example, last July, Australian researchers reported in the journal AIDS (10:745- 52, 1996) that using an injectable anabolic steroid called nandrolone decanoate appears to have a positive effect on "weight, lean body mass and quality of life" in patients who have tested positive for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Nandrolone decanoate is sold commercially as Deca-Durabolin, and a veterinary form is sold under the name Norandren. The researchers administered nandrolone to a group of HIV positive men who had lost from five to 15% of their usual body-weight and who were resistant to nutritional intervention. The study, which lasted for 16 weeks, involved giving these men 100 milligrams of intramuscular injections of nandrolone every two weeks. Results showed that the drug stimulated an average lean-mass gain of three kilograms (about six-and- a-half pounds) in the men. Even more significant, the quality of life and functional abilities of the subjects improved greatly.
Another report published in the same journal four months later showed good results when AIDS patients took an oral anabolic steroid called oxandrolone. Sold under the trade name Anavar (a current version is sold under the name Oxandrin), oxandrolone has for years been one of the more popular anabolic steroids among athletes because of its lack of side effects. This second study involved giving 63 HIV-positive men 15 mg a day of oxandrolone, five mg a day of the same steroid or a placebo. All the men had experienced a 10% or greater loss of bodyweight before the study. After 16 weeks, men taking the higher dose of oxandrolone gained weight; those taking the lower dose maintained their weight; and those taking the placebo pill continued to lose weight. Those taking the higher dose of the drug also reported increases in activity and appetite.
Catabolic states, characterized by a loss of muscle, often herald the beginning of the end for many AIDS patients. Anabolic steroids will not cure AIDS, hut recent research suggests that patients who maintain lean mass stand a greater chance of surviving longer, showing the potential, hut often overlooked. medical benefits of these drugs.