Toulon, France, January 12, 2010 -- With great effort and research into how to fight the HIV virus, important advancements in treatment have been made. What used to be a near-automatic death sentence is no longer the case. With the right mixture of medicines, an HIV-positive person can now live much longer than before. The HIV asymptomatic periods are now much longer than before as well, thanks to HIV research. While all of this great work does not mean an outright cure has been found, the fact that HIV-positive people can continue to live normal lives means extraordinary progress has been achieved.
Antiretroviral therapy has been very successful in lengthening the diseases free periods in those who are HIV-positive; however, HIV infection persists for life, and every time therapy is stopped, the HIV rekindles and becomes active again. These HIV reservoirs of viruses must be dealt with. If left unchecked for too long, the mechanisms leading to full blown AIDS start again and severe health problems occur. Therefore, more HIV research is needed to attack these reservoirs with new medications, and that can only happen if more research and development can be put into the project. HIV suppression has worked so far, but additional research could yield a medication that targets directly the HIV latency period. We must be committed to funding additional research.
Without a preventive vaccine on the horizon, HIV’s pandemic is not controlled and could turn into something far more major and devastating. This isn’t just a problem in a few industrialized nations; HIV is a worldwide problem, and it’ll take a global effort to eradicate this terrible disease. Scientists can do their part by continuing to do research on new strategies against HIV; doctors can evaluate the effectiveness of each medication patients can continue to use these products and explain to the doctors what works and what doesn’t. Also, government agencies can make it easier for scientists by showing a real and concrete political will to cure the disease.
In addition to political and medical support, HIV research requires a fair amount of financial support. Developing new kinds of drugs takes some time and huge financial efforts, but with a global commitment, the HIV reservoirs can be dealt with in timely manner, the HIV latency period can be therapeutically targeted, which means reaching a ‘functional cure’ at least for millions of people living with HIV on a regular basis. While HIV persistence is inevitable in those who are HIV-positive, the right treatment will make it seem as if the virus is not affecting them at all, and one of the goals is to allow these HIV-positive people to lead as normal a life as they possibly can. With more time, effort, and financial support, we can also achieve a cure and total HIV eradication. However, that journey begins with a single step in the right direction.
About us: Dr. Alain Lafeuillade, Chair of the HIV Persistence and Reservoirs Workshop, Coordinator of the HIV Scientific Portal on HIV Reservoirs: http://www.hiv-reservoir.net
Dr. Alain Lafeuillade
1208 av Col. Picot. 83056
Toulon – France