Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Making AIDS History - A Short Course

HIV/AIDS is not cured. Yet tremendous progress has been made in the last 25 years of tenacious research. My access to several brilliant minds behind this science hasn’t lessened the challenge of understanding the language behind their discoveries. Still, the best way to raise awareness about a complicated topic is to offer an explanation that can be understood by the masses so as I journey to Atlanta, I’ll leave you with my best attempt at compiling an HIV Progress elevator pitch. I welcome your corrections and questions which I’ll take with me to the Emory Vaccine Center gurus this weekend for some solid (albeit scientific) answers.

HIV Prevention for the HIV-free

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is the drug manufactured by Gilead as Truvada, recently approved by the FDA for those who are HIV-free and engage in risky putting them at risk of contracting HIV. If taken every day without fail, PrEP has been proven to armor the body's immune system against HIV infection and is 90% effective. This video offers a wonderfully simple explanation: 

HIV Treatment for the HIV+

For those already infected with HIV (HIV+), the antiretroviral drug treatment has been pared down to a "cocktail" of 3 drugs. By comparison, the original cocktail involved something closer to a handful of various drugs. The proper mix differs individually and must be dialed in and adjusted as monitored by a doc. With early diagnosis, easy access to consistent medical care and no missed doses, HIV can be arrested and even turned back, i.e. viral load reduced to sometimes undetectable rates.

HIV/AIDS is not cured but is especially promising right now for those who have the access, resources and determination to manage their care. The next level of research seeks to extend this promise to a broader segment of the population at risk of and infected by HIV. The road to a cure is long but the view is brighter.


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