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Mar 22, 2007

Dr. Bob, You are a great help. Thank you. My question's are: Have we really come that far with AIDS treatments? I have health problems now that if I didn't have AIDS I would not need to be concerned about until I turned 70 or 80 years old. Next question: How much does the world really know about HIV & AIDS? This website is still getting questions like "can I get aids from sitting in a chair that a poz person sat in". Come on! There have been millions of dollars spent on education. I wonder if that money should be spent on finding a cure instead. I tested poz in 1991. It has been a very long and rough 15 years. Everyone doesn't pop a few pills and everything is fine. Thanks!

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Have we really come that far with AIDS treatments? Yes, absolutely. The breakthrough came in mid-1996 when the more potent agents became available. There has been a miraculous decreased in HIV/AIDS morbidity and mortality in those lucky enough to have access to HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy). That said, I must hasten to add that despite how far we've come, we still have a long way to go! Initially, we must make the new more potent drugs less toxic. Ultimately, we need a cure as well as a preventative vaccine.

As for our HIV awareness and prevention efforts, they are an abysmal failure. Despite the fact that HIV is a totally preventable disease, the rate of new infections in the United States hasn't changed for over a decade! There continue to be 40,000 50,000 new HIV infections in the U.S. per year year after year after year. Much of the blame can be placed on our current administration's sex-phobic, anti-science policies, such as "abstinence-only sex education." Many countries with far fewer resources than the U.S. have seen their rates of new HIV infections plummet over the years with effective HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention programs. Those would include science-based, age-appropriate sex education that incorporated information about condoms and STD prevention.

Do I think the money directed at HIV prevention should be spent on research for better treatments and a cure? No, not necessarily. HIV/AIDS awareness/prevention and treatment/research for a vaccine and cure are both equally important. It shouldn't be one or the other. Both components of the fight against HIV/AIDS need to be funded. We must also redirect the current misguided prevention funds, such as "abstinence-only sex ed." into more effective programs.

I, too, became infected in 1991 and consequently can certainly relate to your experience that the past 15 years have had their challenging moments. But if you remember back to 1991, our survival prognosis then was about 10 years max! And here we are 16 years later! That's as good an indication as any that things are improving! Let's plan to be here for the cure, OK?

Dr. Bob



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