Thanksgiving Day for me is a moment of reflection, a day for counting successes and humbly conceding merit to ourselves as well as all the others that made those successes happen. I decided to come forth and give thanks for these five news articles that made my work in the HIV field more promising as well as more hopeful.
On August 8, 2013 the FDA approved the first test that simultaneously identifies both antibodies and antigens specific to HIV, opening the door to closing the window period (pun intended) for HIV detection. Acute infections of HIV are a major driver of new infections and this 4th generation test will hopefully address this scope of the transmission chain. Now it’s time to ask Santa for a Clia Wavier for next year… 😀
After being aggressively treated, a newborn that was conclusively diagnosed as HIV positive has been able to sustain a viral suppression without any additional treatment. Her case has been the cause of wide debate; Dr. Rowena Johnston, amfAR Vice President and Director of Research, said it is “imperative that we learn more about a newborn’s immune system, how it differs from an adult’s and what factors made it possible for the child to be cured.”
In this case (reported before the Mississippi toddler) a 67 year old man was found to be “functionally cured” or in “remission” from HIV after five years of treatment. He suspended treatment in 2004 and to date has not had viral rebound. About 15% of patients that receive early treatment (within six months of infection) may achieve functional cure status, raising hopes of improved quality of life for many.
Another breakthrough this year from the FDA was the approval of PrEP as a preventative option for high-risk negatives. As an HIV counselor, I could not receive this news without lots of apprehension. This article reports on a study that partially helps ease my apprehension and shows that in certain cases (at least within the study) PrEP did not automatically result in a higher occurrence of risky behaviors.
Adherence… one of the most important words in viral suppression can be a cumbersome experience for HIV patients. Finding a way of making adherence achievable to many more people is a key component of the treatment cascade. Although this is an early study, hopefully one day it will be standard practice.