Stop Talking About a Cure for AIDS: Expert
July 19, 2007
Heading to Sydney for the International AIDS Society Conference, Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke of "incredibly potent treatments on the horizon" and "possible vaccines in the pipeline." "But as for a cure, let's just stop talking about it," he said.
The head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases listed numerous roadblocks to progress. Women in developing nations find it hard to negotiate condom use; only 28 percent of HIV/AIDS patients are getting the treatments they need; and "It's like we've hit a wall" in the United States, where 40,000 new HIV infections have occurred annually for the past 14 years.
Professor David Cooper, an Australian HIV immunologist and the conference co-chair, fears the rise of crystal methamphetamine will soon push up heterosexual HIV rates in Australia, where new HIV infections have jumped from 500 annually in 2000 to almost 1,000 a year at present. And he acknowledges that an AIDS vaccine "could be years off."
Even so, Cooper said new drugs, especially integrase inhibitors, and other breakthroughs raise hopes for eradicating the virus. "It now may be possible to get the virus down to very, very low levels. And there is also new gene technology and a new study where they were able to excise HIV out of the genome, which shows great promise."
Fauci, however, remains cautious. "I don't think cure is a common end point in infection because of the special nature of the virus and its ability to integrate itself into the genome of a cell where it becomes almost impossible to get rid of it. You can stop it multiplying and keep someone quite well for many, many years. But so far we haven't even come close to truly eradicating it in anyone, and I think we should just stop talking about it," Fauci said.
Australian Associated Press
07.19.2007; Tamara McLean
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.