No one is yet prepared to pronounce AIDS cured, but people with HIV infection now live much longer -- and live much better -- than they did even a few years ago. Great gains have been made in the treatment of HIV infection itself, particularly since the introduction of a new class of drugs, the protease inhibitors, which are especially effective when used in combination with one or more of the older antiviral drugs. Moreover, comparable gains have been made in treating - or simply preventing - AIDS-related infections such as pneumocystis pneumonia.
Much of the improved longevity and life quality that AIDS patients now enjoy is directly attributable to the development of newer and more powerful antiviral drugs. The virus can still run, but it cannot hide as easily as it once did. Indeed, it can no longer hide at all: a recently developed laboratory test can detect even small quantities of HIV in the bloodstream. Because this new test is so precise, it can be used to measure how effectively a specific drug suppresses viral replication in a specific patient. And, by extension, it can alert the physician that a drug is losing its effectiveness, and that the time has come to change therapies.
Successful long-term care of patients with HIV infection requires full cooperation and open communication, conscientiousness and compassion - on all sides. Patients and physicians are partners in this process, but they are not the sole partners. Nurses and nutritionists, psychologists and social workers, financial advisors, family and friends - all are essential to optimal management of the HIV-infected patient, whose global well-being is our foremost concern.
AIDS Care has been created to provide all of those care partners with relevant, reliable, readable information on all aspects of advanced HIV infection and related quality-of-life issues - from nutritional advice to estate planning, from ratings of over-the-counter remedies to assessments of investigational drugs, from travel tips to therapeutic guidelines. To help readers interpret the medical news we will be covering in the NEWSLINE section of every issue, members of our editorial advisory board, listed opposite, will provide brief commentaries on specific news items under the heading WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU.
In its first year, AIDS Care will appear on a bimonthly basis and will be mailed free of charge to clinicians and other healthcare providers across the country. This vitally important educational effort is made possible by unrestricted educational grants from the charter sponsors listed on the opposite page.
How to Reach AIDS CarePaul A. Volberding, M.D., Editor-in-Chief
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This article was provided by AIDS Care.