Archive for the ‘Research’ Category
It is not just another ribbon on a lapel or people marching to raise awareness of a particular issue or disease. HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is about volunteers and community support for vital vaccine trials. Save the date on Sunday, May 18th and learn about the vaccine.
Without volunteers in the clinical trials, an HIV vaccine will not happen.
Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent the spread of HIV is our best hope for stopping the AIDS epidemic. In addition, there are complementary strategies to curb the spread of HIV including the use of microbicides, male circumcision, blood supply screening, and the use of clean syringes and condoms.
Multiple clinical trials are also taking place to determine whether giving antiretroviral therapy (ART) to HIV-negative people is an effective means of preventing infection. The question remains would you take the drugs to prevent infection?
Until we have a vaccine. these strategies are our only hope against HIV infection. But right now, we are not winning this war.
Results were released from an AIDS vaccine phase III trial in Thailand, which showed – for the first time – that the risk of HIV infection can be reduced by a vaccine. This study was the largest AIDS vaccine trial to date, with over 16,000 participants. It indicated that the vaccine regimen reduced HIV risk by approximately 30 percent.
But much more research must be done.
There remains a great deal of misunderstanding about HIV vaccine research. The success of HIV vaccine studies depends on the understanding, trust, support, and participation of communities across the country. It depends on people volunteering to be part of several ongoing clinical trials.
How can you help? You can play a part in the search for an HIV vaccine by educating yourself and others about HIV vaccine research. There is a great deal of information about the HIV vaccine and clinic trials at http://bethegeneration.nih.gov/.
If you are interested, The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has opened enrollment in HVTN 505, an exploratory HIV vaccine clinical study examining whether a two-part vaccine regimen can decrease viral load in study participants who later become infected with HIV. HVTN 505 is taking place in 12 U.S. cities and is enrolling 1,350 HIV-negative men ages 18 to 45 years who have sex with men.
You can find information about this new study at http://hopetakesaction.org.
I’ve put links to the fact sheets provided by the National Institutes of Health on our new Info Center at http://myhivaidsawareness.com. We will also have more information in the coming weeks in our weekly HIV Living Without Limitations e-newsletter. You can sign up for HLWL in the right column on this page.
I was reading over reports from the briefing held just over a week ago by a host of prominent HIV/AIDS organizations including amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research; AVAC; HIV Medicine Association; IDSA/HIVMA Center for Global Health Policy; the San Francisco AIDS Foundation; and the Treatment Action Group.
The keynote speaker was Anthony Fauci, MD, director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health.
I like to look at the positive first, so let me share a bit about what they found was working for us right now. “More than 30 effective antiretroviral drugs are approved for use in HIV/AIDS, and these have “totally transformed the lives of HIV-infected individuals,” Dr. Fauci said. “We went from a 26-week lifespan to a 40-year-plus life span” for those infected with the virus in the past 15 years.
Of concern is that for every person who started on antiretroviral therapy in 2008, 2 to 3 people were infected with HIV. “We are not winning the game,” he said.
According to Dr. Fauci, we can reach our goal of controlling and ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic by focusing on three areas: scaling up delivery of proven therapies, curing existing infections, and preventing new infections. He feels that our greatest hope is a “functional cure,” in which HIV patients are treated early and aggressively and then go into permanent remission where the virus no longer replicates.
Dr. Fauci went on to say an additional strategy for preventing new infections was “critical” and “eminently feasible.” This strategy includes use of microbicides, male circumcision, blood supply screening, and the use of clean syringes and condoms.
But there have been devastating failures in reaching our goal of creating a vaccine that will prevent infection. “Last year for the first time we had the first signal of a success in a vaccine trial,” Dr. Fauci said. Much more research must still done.
It seems that we remain in the position where individual behavior is our primary weapon for prevention. We can provide the tools that assist with prevention, but they must be used.
As Dr. Fauci says, there may be an impression “that we really have our arms around this and that things are stable and they are not.”
Our science has brought us to the point of creating what can be described now as a chronic disease, but not to the point of curing it or truly preventing it. Stunning successes mixed with devastating failures – very much like a life spent living the battle of HIV.
I started out to write a blog post about the true impacts of research news on the daily lives of those with HIV/AIDS. Part of what we do at http://myhivaidsawareness.com is to review each day what is happening the areas of prevention, treatment, care and research.
But then I came across an article posted in Business Week – http://bit.ly/c49GXl – and a few other publications that said, “Morphine May Protect Brains of People With HIV.” I looked a little further and found they studied this because doctors saw that HIV+ heroin users were not developing AIDS-related dementia. Okay, but doesn’t morphine have huge addictive and tolerance problems? Are we telling people to start using morphine or its close relative heroin?
To get past the headline, I looked a little deeper into HIV and heroin. Other research has found that drugs like morphine and heroin suppress the immune system and enhance the inflammatory effects of HIV on brain encephalitis. In other words, they can make you much worse.
You have to read past the headline and find that doctors are saying that a morphine-like substance could be developed that does not have the typical dependency and tolerance issues. They aren’t saying use heroin or morphine to protect your brain. But the headline sure sounded like an endorsement of morphine and no such morphine-like substance now exists.
Research is defined as the “systematic investigation to establish facts.” Individual research projects only look at a very tiny part of the whole HIV puzzle. Many times they present conflicting information that can be very confusing if you are trying to figure out a treatment regimen that works for you.
Most importantly, when we report on and/or hear about new research, we have to remember that impact of most research is years away. Just in the past few months we have heard about the potential importance of bananas, an acne drug, and some common anti-biotics in HIV treatment and prevention. But where does it fit in your treatment today?
We will continue to review and share the latest research findings especially those that hold promise for the future. But it is important to never forget that your treatment today is what impacts your future.
If you have questions about treatment, please check with your medical provider. If you wish to have some additional information about HIV treatment, I recommend some of these great resources that are available from Project Inform: