Essay Examines Progress, Challenges in HIV/AIDS Research
"25 Years of HIV," Nature: In the essay, Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, examines progress and challenges associated with HIV/AIDS research since the virus was isolated in 1983. According to Fauci, the "biomedical research effort directed at HIV/AIDS has resulted in some breathtaking successes"; however, much "remains to be accomplished in the global fight against HIV." To address such challenges, researchers have "two main options," Fauci writes. The first is to "purge every vestige of virus from" HIV-positive people's "bodies so that a course of treatment could be measured in weeks or months rather than a lifetime." He adds that because of HIV's ability to "hide within cells from both drugs and the immune system, such a treatment regime has proved elusive, although important work in this area is being pursued." This leaves researchers "with the second option" of preventing HIV "in the first place," according to Fauci. The international community "must now do better at delivering prevention," he writes, adding that an HIV/AIDS vaccine is the "best hope for ultimately ending the pandemic." Providing "HIV interventions for the people it most affects requires political will, a long-term supply of considerable financial resources, scientific and public-health vision, and dedication from all sectors of society," Fauci writes, concluding, "With these ingredients, the trajectory of our fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the next quarter of a century could move from cautious optimism towards triumph. Absent any of these factors, and history will not judge us kindly" (Fauci, Nature, May 2008).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.