Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gimme a Head With Hair, Long Beautiful Hair -- and Doctors Can Tell How You're Responding to AIDS Drugs

Posted By on Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge poster2.jpg
It turns out the folks chasing weekend stoners away from gainful employment at Blockbuster Video were in the forefront of biological science. In order to hawk videos -- back when people watched videos and Barry Bonds weighed 170 pounds -- one used to be mandated to provide a lock of hair. After all, everything shows up in your hair (including the garlic powder you sprinkled on a slice of thin-crust cheese -- three days later!).

It turns out that checking one's hair is good for more than just invading the privacy of minimum wage workers. Researchers at U.C. San Francisco have announced that the levels of antiretroviral drugs they find in HIV patients' hair is a very strong indicator of how well one will respond to treatment.

"Hair sampling for antriretroviral levels could become a new standard to look at how much drug a patient is getting," said Professor Ruth Greenblat, a co-author of the study -- which was led by Professor Monica Gandhi and published late last month in the bleakly titled journal AIDS.

The old standard is to count pills, aggressively query patients, or rely on high-tech -- and costly -- "medication dispensing devices." In medical jargon, these methods are "highly patient dependent" -- making them vulnerable to weary or incompetent folks. Also, they don't work so well.

Hair tests may even work better than blood tests: Gandhi noted that hair reveals the rate of patients' pill consumption over the course of several weeks rather than the one-time "snapshot" demonstrated by bloodwork. Imagine the difference between a lengthy documentation of a stock's price over time and a highlight of how it stood for one moment of one day.

Eh, stocks are too depressing to talk about now. Let's talk about AIDS instead. 

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"