HIV/AIDS Treatment Research in a ‘Slump’; No ‘Major’ Breakthroughs Since Protease Inhibitors in 1996
With AIDS drug research in a "slump" and the rate of HIV infection holding steady, "better control of the AIDS epidemic is going to take a lot longer than scientists had expected or predicted even a few years ago," the Los Angeles Times reports. The number of new HIV infections in the United States has remained steady at approximately 40,000 infections per year since the beginning of the epidemic. The Times reports that there have been "no major breakthroughs" in AIDS drug development since the introduction of protease inhibitors six years ago. Lee Klosinski, director of programs for AIDS Project Los Angeles, said that progress in the field of AIDS research has been "absolutely glacial" for the past two or three years. Although antiretroviral treatment has "slashed" the annual number of AIDS-related deaths from 40,000 to 15,000, many people have stopped therapy because of the side effects of the drugs or because they are experiencing resistance to treatment. New data indicate that HIV-positive people who stop antiretroviral treatment are much more likely to develop AIDS or die than thos who continue taking the medications despite potentially serious side effects. In addition, doctors are seeing an increasing number of HIV-positive patients who are co-infected with hepatitis B or C, complicating treatment regimens. The Times article also rounds up research findings presented two weeks ago at the Ninth Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle (Maugh, Los Angeles Times, 3/11). The full article is available online.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.