What Are Some of the Challenges with HIV Research Today?

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I think what a lot doctors struggle with or a lot of healthcare providers struggle with is, "Are we focused more on treatment and are we not looking at cure or vaccines?" "Is the money not going to vaccine trials and cure trials, and are we just finding another ladden great treatment option which is really expensive?" You have to remember an HIV treatment can start at $1000 a month.

That's a lot of money, especially if you're going to take this drug for the rest of your life. So a lot of people argue that, are we focused on treating because that's the money maker, and I guess you could say that for a lot of things including cancer and heart disease diabetes, we're very focused on treating people and getting them under control because then they're on autopilot with their drug and are having take it every month.

It's a little unfair. We still have to treat people, we still have to do research, we have to improve upon treatment and every year, even in all medical fields, including HIV, we've improved. However, I would really like to see more focus on cure, I go to do at least one AIDS convention a year.

And I'm surprised to be hearing cure talk. You didn't hear it several years ago and now you're hearing it more and more, so it makes you very optimistic, and I know that smaller companies are doing work, and even larger ones are still looking at it. We're very very far away from that, and I think that's why the vaccine trials have failed.

You have to understand HIV is very different from many viruses because one it rapidly mutates. So it's very hard to concentrate on one virus strain, plus there're many clades or sub-types, so a vaccine would have to encompass that much breadth of information and it's very very hard to do, because believe me, if they were going to figure it out, they would have done it by now.

So it takes a lot money, research takes takes a lot of money, and you have to have people that still support it. Part of what I'd like to do with GMNC and the writing that I do is reintroduce the community to this idea that HIV is still here and it still affects 1.1 million people, and that it hasn't gone away, and even though we don't hear about it on TV, or the celebrities, it's gone, but the way side, it's an infectious disease that affects people and one in six people have HIV, and they don't even know it, and there is realistic statistics that support that if those people were diagnosed, they'll probably be diagnosed in a later stage of AIDS, which we don't even see AIDS as much anymore.

So the idea that HIV is no big deal or it's treatable or you don't have to worry about it, is very alarming to me because I still think we've come very long way, but we haven't come very close enough to a cure and I'd like to see that.