Category Archives: HIV/AIDS
The National Institutes of Health has been the world’s lead agency for developing and funding tests and treatments for HIV/AIDS. Thirty years after publication of the first report about a rare type of pneumonia that became a frequent hallmark of the disease, Anthony Fauci, M.D., head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and among the foremost AIDS experts in the U.S., looks back at the history of HIV/AIDS in a statement published on the NIH website.
Says Fauci: “…NIH is committed to advancing a comprehensive program of basic, clinical, translational and behavioral and social science research toward controlling and ultimately ending this modern plague. In memory of the patients, friends, loved ones and colleagues we have lost over these three decades, we wholeheartedly embrace this responsibility and opportunity knowing that history will judge us as much for what we accomplish during the coming years as for what we have achieved thus far.”
To mark the thirty years since cases of the disease that would become known as AIDS were first reported in the U.S., veteran New York Times health reporter Lawrence K. Altman, M.D., has written a concise history of the disease, and the virus, HIV, that causes it.
Altman’s account, written from his perch in the front row of reporters covering the story, touches on the full wide swath of the history of this modern disease--homosexuality, epidemiology, pharmacology, history and the venerable practice of public health.
Despite encouraging news on HIV/AIDs treatment, such as the NIH study released last week, a key goal is a vaccine that could prevent the infection in the first place.
In observance of National HIV Vaccine Awareness Day today, Anthony Fauci, M.D., head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which oversees much of the HIV/AIDS research done by the National Institutes of Health offered an update on HIV vaccine efforts:
- In 2009, a clinical trial in Thailand involving 16,000 people demonstrated for the first time that a vaccine could safely prevent HIV infection in a percentage of study participants. Blood samples from the study are being reviewed to look at how the vaccine used in the trial prevented HIV infections and to see how it could be modified to make it more effective.
- NIAID is exploring the use of innovative or adaptive clinical trial designs that let scientists quickly modify ongoing trials in response to data acquired during the study.
- Some NIAID-supported laboratory scientists are looking at vaccine design in a new way, by designing HIV vaccine candidates based on knowledge of the protein structure of the surface spikes that HIV uses to attach to and infect human cells.
- Other studies are building on evidence that in most individuals, only a small number of HIV particles, sometimes just one, are responsible for HIV infection taking hold. Researchers are looking at ways to design vaccines that target these specific particles.
In a statement released in observance of HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, Dr. Fauci reminded the research and health community that no single HIV prevention strategy will ultimately end the HIV/AIDS pandemic and also pointed to research beyond vaccines such as vaginal and rectal microbicides, prophylaxis medication and expanded HIV testing that links those who are infected to medical care.
The continued need for prevention efforts “is why public health workers continue to advocate and implement scientifically proven HIV prevention strategies such as condom use… and harm-reduction strategies for injection drug users,” Fauci said.
Weigh In: What new HIV prevention strategies have been implemented in your community?