Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s top HIV/AIDS doctors, cautioned that the highly publicized case of the so-called London Patient — the second person in the world confirmed to be cured of HIV infection — does not mean a widely available cure is on the horizon anytime soon.
“To think that bone marrow transplantation is going to be a scalable, feasible, safe way to treat infections is really, unfortunately, misleading, because it is not,” Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease, said Tuesday on MSNBC.
The ‘London Patient’ was cured of HIV in the process of being treated for a much deadlier disease: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This cancer of the lymphatic system can be treated with a risky bone marrow transplant from a donor whose marrow matches. “This was really his last chance of survival,” Dr. Ravindra Gupta, the patient’s doctor, told Reuters.
In many ways, the domestic and global fight against HIV/AIDs has made great strides. Yet there are still millions of people who are newly diagnosed with HIV globally each year.
One preventive strategy receiving renewed attention and progress is an HIV vaccine. Dr. Larry Corey, the principal investigator of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network based at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, recently launched a highly ambitious HIV vaccine study, which will test a protective antibody on thousands of people around the world.
“I am cautiously optimistic,” said Corey during a panel discussion at Fortune’s Brainstorm Health conference on Tuesday. Corey says researchers could start seeing very early results from the trials as early April 2019.
Beyond a vaccine, getting people rapid treatment is another way to keep infection rates down, and help people with an HIV diagnosis live a long and healthy life. Dr. Diane Havlir, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has been part of an innovative program in San Francisco focused on substantially curb the spread of HIV in the city. A key pillar of the program’s success lies in its strategy to get recently infected people into treatment on the same day as their diagnosis.
“We need to work together in order to reduce the number of HIV infections,” said Havlir during the conference, adding that getting patients into treatment quickly can help empower them to take charge of their treatment. It’s also an inexpensive strategy.
But what will it take to get to zero infections worldwide? Both Corey and Havlir said public commitment and cross sector engagement will be critical. “For sure, HIV is the epidemic of our time,” said Corey. “I think to some extent the health care of our generation is going to be defined by how we handle [it] … We need sustained commitment.”
Havlir agrees. “Invest in research. Invest in care. Either we pay now, or we pay later,” she said.
A new web series from Todd Flaherty is elevating the conversation surrounding what it means to have an undetectable HIV-positive status and helping to break down stigma for those living with HIV.
According to Tyler Curry, creator of The Needle Prick Project, “an HIV-positive person can achieve undetectable levels after undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART). A level of a person’s HIV viral load is what causes them to be more or less likely to transmit the disease. An undetectable viral load reduces the likelihood of transmission by 96 percent.”
Many people, queer and straight alike, are still uneducated about what exactly undetectable means. Flaherty’s new web series, appropriately titled “Undetectable,” follows a fictional gay man after he finds out about his own HIV diagnosis and his subsequent journey.
Michael Rizzi, a 21-year-old YouTube personality widely known for his “strange addiction” to the exclamatory word “yaaaaass,” is taking a more serious note in a recent project. In the video “Living With HIV Stigma,” Rizzi spoke to five men and one woman who are HIV-positive about the social hurdles they face on a daily basis. Take a look…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched their latest communication campaign under their Act Against AIDS initiative – This new national HIV prevention campaign is the result of input from more than 500 gay and bisexual men from various racial and ethnic groups, ages, and geographic areas across the United States. The campaign was created by and for gay and bisexual men to promote open communication about a range of HIV prevention strategies for sexual partners.
Start Talking. Stop HIV. features messages that engage, inspire, and spark conversations between sexual partners and provides gay and bisexual men with practical tools and tips for talking about important HIV prevention topics like:
HIV testing and their HIV status,
Condoms and engaging in lower-risk sexual behaviors,
Medicines that prevent and treat HIV, including the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and antiretroviral therapy (ART).
More than thirty years after the first diagnosis of AIDS in the United States, gay and bisexual men continue to be the population most severely affected by HIV nationwide, due to a number of complex factors.
Research shows that communication between sexual partners is associated with reduced risk behavior and increased HIV testing and HIV status disclosure; however, many gay and bisexual men may still find it difficult to talk openly with their sexual partners about HIV prevention.
A dedicated campaign website and Facebook Page provide conversation starters and accurate information to inform these life-saving conversations.
Facing AIDS is a digital photo sharing initiative with the goal of reducing HIV-related stigma and promoting HIV testing. Many AIDS.gov blog readers have contributed personal messages to the Facing AIDS photo gallery, most recently in recognition of World AIDS Day (December 1, 2012 – visit the gallery to see the inspiring messages collected over the five years of the initiative). Many of your Facing AIDS messages highlight the importance of confronting stigma and echo the theme of National HIV Testing Day: Take the Test. Take Control. That consistency made it easy for our team to re-purpose the photos into the newest video in our Facing AIDS series. To learn how participate in Facing AIDS, read this blog post. To watch other videos in the Facing AIDS series, please use this playlist. Click here to learn more about locating HIV testing near you. Please watch and share the “Facing AIDS for National HIV Testing Day” video.
May is designated as Hepatitis Awareness Month in the United States. During May, agencies and offices across the federal government as well as state and local partners work to shed light on this hidden epidemic by raising awareness of viral hepatitis and encouraging priority populations to get tested. Learn about Heatitis C…
For more information about Hepatitis Awareness Month, go to the AIDS.gov Website.