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French researchers, trying to determine why 13% of people who start highly active antiretroviral therapy with a protease inhibitor'based regimen develop severe side effects within one year, report that baseline viral loads over 100,000 are linked to adverse side effects. Reporting in the July 15 edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases, the researchers evaluated 1,155 people who began HAART between May 1997 and June 1998. A total of 149 patients experienced severe PI-related side effects, according to researchers. Patients who had a viral load above 100,000 copies before beginning therapy were the most likely to experience severe PI-related side effects. The researchers say that some of the adverse side effects can be linked to immune system reconstitution and others to prior experience to other anti-HIV drugs, but they still recommend that doctors closely monitor patients beginning a PI-based regimen during the first four weeks of treatment for PI-related events, particularly in patients with high baseline viral loads.