Posts Tagged ‘hiv research’
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: