Denise Goodman Comments On the Future of HIV/AIDS Research
Denise Goodman: Member of CRIA's Community Advisory Board
"A heart at peace gives life to the body."
This proverb succinctly expresses what I consider to be the most promising direction for AIDS research. In essence, a lot has been learned through HIV research about the immune system and how to control its deterioration. Going forward, the challenge is to learn to work with the immune system to strengthen and restore life to the body.
The field of immune restoration looks at what drugs and/or substances (natural or engineered) can induce a positive immune response that may prevent or lessen the severity of disease. Maybe this excites me most because I am not a scientist. I'd like to believe that our bodies' natural defense system could be the major player in keeping us healthy and alive.
Immune restoration goes hand in hand with the future of AIDS research -- the goal of finding an effective (preventive and therapeutic) HIV vaccine and microbicide. Research is underway to find a vaccine that will induce the immune system to mount an antibody and cellular response to HIV exposure or re-exposure. Our bodies can be a partner in the fight -- not just a "consumer".
I find this so exciting, promising, and empowering. That is why I work at Project Achieve. As the Community Relations Coordinator, I seek out interested individuals, agencies and anybody who'll listen, to learn more about vaccine and microbicide research being conducted in New York City and around the world through the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and HIV Prevention Trials Network.
The good news is that the field is intensifying. There are several promising vaccine and microbicide products in pre-clinical and clinical trials today. However, the supply of products and funding to do the research fall far below the urgency with which we need these products. Perhaps this stems from the reality that the primary market for these products is the developing world, which has little to no resources to pay for these prevention tools. Locally, we also could use these products. But the voice of the at-risk and infected activist community is notably quite soft. Twenty years of this epidemic has taught us many things, including that low demand equals low supply equals little progress.
Label me a dreamer, but I still believe that, as a community, we must and will rally to demand and give input to HIV vaccine and microbicide research. Within a decade I'd like to see the development of at least one HIV microbicide that's available worldwide, easy-to-use, inexpensive, non-contraceptive and erotic. Within two decades, I'd like to see the licensing of an HIV vaccine that's available worldwide, inexpensive, and accepted by the masses.
This article was provided by AIDS Community Research Initiative of America. It is a part of the publication CRIA Update. Visit ACRIA's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.