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How far are we from a cure for HIV/AIDS?
Sep 16, 2002

Hi:

Just curious but how far away is a cure for HIV/AIDS? Are we talking month, years or never? Thanks.

Response from Mr. Kull

I don't like to say never, but curing viral infections like HIV is a very difficult task and is not something that's going to happen in the forseeable future.

The current medications (HAART) have been quite effective in prolonging people's lives and reducing HIV's ability to impair a person's immune system. Some of the problems with current medications are that they are expensive, most infected people in the world do not have access to medications, they can result in side effects that some people can't tolerate, and people sometimes fail on the medications. However, newer medications are always being developed and the development of HAART has resulted in a dramatic reduction in AIDS-related deaths.

For now, prevention is the best possible answer. An effective vaccine would be our best bet in our fight to eliminate HIV. Besides using condoms for sex, providing clean syringes to injection drug users, and using antiviral drugs to prevent transmission from an infected mother to her infant, other innovative prevention methods need to be developed. One that has received more attention lately is a microbicide--a substance that could be used (a lubricant or jelly, like spermicides) that would inactivate HIV in sexual fluids before it has a chance to infect a person.

RMK



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