Posts tagged inexpensive HIV treatment
New Anti-HIV Drugs: Research in Stopping AIDS
In December of 2013, researchers at the University of Minnesota published some very striking and uniformly positive findings in the fight against HIV. They discovered several compounds that uniquely targeted HIV cells. These compounds – ribonucleoside analogs 8-azaadenosine, formycin A, 3-deazauridine, 5-fluorocytidine and 2’-C-methylcytidine – stop HIV replication by blocking DNA synthesis. This is achieved by causing the HIV cells to drop their DNA load before they are ready to and not within blood cells. The compounds also cause the HIV cells to mutate so rapidly that the cells essentially mutate themselves into extinction. The findings were a surprise to most of the anti-HIV research community, because the compounds in question were not on anyone’s radar. In fact, they seemed to have no potential for stopping HIV. Another major benefit to these compounds is the low cost of synthesizing them into new anti-HIV drugs. This is always an important factor, as it lessens the burden for the future prevention and treatment of HIV.
In fact, this is what has been occurring over the past year. The new anti-HIV drugs, which were synthesized version of these compounds, have been introduced in tangent with currently approved HIV medications. So far, the reports have been positive. Although the drugs do not fully eradicate HIV from an infected person’s system, the new drugs can be used along with lower doses of more expensive medications. With this tandem approach, the infection is kept low and extremely manageable. Having a minimal viral load results in low immune activity and prevents the virus cells from spreading throughout the body. Because of this symptoms are virtually absent. This translates into lower costs for a lifelong regimen of anti-HIV medication, both for the individual patients and for health care systems worldwide.
A landmark study has shown that a smaller dose of HIV treatments is just as effective at suppressing HIV as the standard dose currently used. These findings may benefit millions of individuals who have never been able to receive treatment due to the expensive price of the drugs. Knowing that a smaller dose is sufficient may open the way for millions to receive the necessary treatments to control this disease for the first time.
Lower doses equal lower costs. Lower costs mean that current budgets for providing healthcare to HIV patients in developing nations will go further by reaching more patients. The study was conducted using people who are HIV positive from thirteen different countries. Individuals who could never have afforded treatment were able to get a reduced dose or a full dose as a part of the study. Half of the patients were given the standard dose, while the other half only took two-thirds of the standard treatment amount.
Over 600 individuals took part in the study altogether. After a year of treatment and observation, it became clear that reducing the treatment by one-third did not have any detrimental results for the patients. This is a huge revelation for the treatment of HIV in developing nations where the primary issue has always been cost of treatment.
As with many HIV research studies, this study was funded by a foundation set up by Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda. Gates’ donations, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, have been instrumental in continuing research and helping HIV-positive individuals receive the best care possible across the globe.