Recent Advances in HIV Research

There are currently over 1.1 million Americans living with HIV and almost 16% of those Americans don’t even know they’re infected. It is also estimated that there are about 50,000 new HIV infections annually. Despite these large numbers, tremendous strides have been made in HIV research and development since the Center for Disease Control (CDC) saw its first five cases of HIV/AIDS in 1981.

In 1996, the first anti-retroviral treatments (ART) were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). ART also improved the quality of care for HIV/AIDS patients and reduced the cost of care simultaneously.

A few years after the first protease inhibitors were approved, the HIV/AIDS death rate decreased 67%. Today, HIV/AIDS related deaths have seen an 85% decrease.

The life expectancy for HIV/AIDS patients has also increased 15 years since the 1980s according to the University of Chicago, and in 2006, the rates of transmission from mother to infant dropped to below 2%.

There are currently 44 medicines and vaccines in the development pipeline that are either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the FDA. Twenty-five of these are antivirals, 16 are vaccines, and three are cell/gene therapies. One of these medicines is intended to prevent HIV from breaking through the cell membrane. Another is a cell therapy that modifies a patient’s own cells in an attempt to make them resistant to HIV.

Treatments such as these have made a rapid and drastic impact on HIV/AIDS patients. For example, just five years after being diagnosed with the disease, Arthur Ashe succumbed to AIDS-related pneumonia in 1993. Magic Johnson was diagnosed with HIV/ADIS in 1991 but is expected to meet his full life expectancy because of the new treatments options.

For more information are advancements in HIV/AIDS research and development, please read the 2014 Report: Medicines in Development for HIV/AIDS:

Jaime Venditti, State Coordinator, New York Health Works