Researchers are optimistic that we could see the end of AIDS in the near future, with the help of new tools and prevention medication. New reports have hyped up and praised advancements in the field, even though stronger efforts will be required to bring on the end of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
- There currently are 1.5 million people diagnosed with new HIV each year
- An average of 1 million people perish from AIDS annually
- Researchers will unveil new tools of fighting against the disease at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections held between Feb. 22nd-25th in Boston
Dr. Kenneth H. Mayer from the Fenway Institute underlined that there are still 1.5 million new cases of HIV diagnosed each year, and around 1 million people die from AIDS annually. The medical community has faced incredible obstacles since the epidemic first started in the at the beginning of the 20th century. The virus is difficult to combat due to its clever ability of remaining within the body.
Once infected, the patients have to undergo treatment for the rest of their lives. It stops the HIV from developing into AIDS, which is ultimately fatal. However, the medication does not completely eliminate the virus. Instead, it forces it to remain dormant, and once treatment stops, the disease is free to run rampant through their body and evolve. It’s the unfortunate fact that makes a condition such as HIV so dangerous. Treatment does not make it go away and patients are very likely to transmit the virus through unprotected sex.
Still, the medical community has made excellent advancements in the past 20 years. At one point, the patients had to take around a dozen pills with unfortunate side effects to manage their condition. Today, there’s only one pill that works for mostly everyone without any unpleasant reactions. It shows just how far medicine has advanced, but that war is not over yet. It will a long and hard-fought battle, even after we acquire the proper tools to eradicate the disease.
That is why Dr. Mayer is glad to speak of the “two new emerging tools” that will be used against HIV/AIDS. This includes easy-to-use prevention medication, along with new advances in the field of research concerning a potential vaccine. Perhaps with their help, they will get closer to diminishing the number of HIV patients and lower the fatality rate.
Dr. Mayer teased the possibility of announcing a new bioengineered antibody, called VRCO1, that has shown excellent results in animal trials. It’s in his hopes that they will be able to start human trials next month, on 4,000 high-risk men and women in numerous parts of the world who are infected with HIV. But that’s just one of the potentially new and useful tools.
Researchers have spoken about the possibility of better health outcomes and a lesser likelihood of transmitting the virus if patients start treatment right after the diagnosis. Furthermore, another study has underlined that taking one of the daily pills used for PrEP (preexposure prophylaxis) can reduce the risk of getting the virus for those not yet infected. This is especially important in the case of people who are at high risk, such as gay and bisexual men.
Dr. Mayer claimed he is optimistic about the possibility of ending AIDS once and for all in the near future. It is “possible”, and more will be revealed at the upcoming Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, that will be held between February 22nd and 25th in Boston. Every new finding is potentially useful and will bring the medical community one step closer to ending the war against HIV/AIDS.
Image source: apa.org