HIV/AIDS was originally misunderstood as a disease when it started claiming a staggering number of lives in the 1980's. HIV and AIDS medication has come a long, long way since then, little by little turning a slow death sentence into a manageable chronic disease.
Antiretroviral therapy in itself has come a long way. Patients had to take a thorough regimen of medication with a number of drugs in particular combinations every day at very specific times. There could be hefty side effects, and the medication regimen couldn't always be started at diagnosis. Where once a person had to take nucleoside and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors, integrase inhibitors, pharmacokinetic enhancers, and so many more, patients can begin to take multi-class combination drugs once per day as soon as they're diagnosed.
At the end of 2013, the US FDA and Health Canada approved a new one – dolutegravir, which is marketed as Tivicay. While it does add one more pill back into the regimen, Tivicay is also only taken once daily with the other prescribed HIV AIDS medications, and it can even be taken by children under 12-years old. It interferes with an enzyme critical to HIV's ability to multiply and thus spread throughout the body.
A study from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in early May 2014 proposes a therapy that could hopefully neutralize all strains of HIV/AIDS. While not a potential vaccine or treatment in itself, it aims to diminish the virus' ability to evade the immune system by covering the exposed envelope proteins and targeting a vulnerable portion of that protein. The TSRI study will be imperative to stimulating the right antibodies and developing a vaccine or medication therapy vastly more successful than what is on the market now.
Applying Other Drugs to HIV/AIDS Therapy
Some of the most interesting developments that could see more immediate applicability are based on medication already being used to treat other diseases or afflictions. Earlier this year, the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health Sciences published an NIH-funded study that used a kidney-dialysis drug to prove certain bacterium are a major cause in health complications for AIDS patients; this is an all important first step in developing specific therapies that will curtail heart disease and death. Another study published in the “American Journal of Transplantation” determined that the transplant drug sirolimus can diminish the presence of HIV DNA in the body, theorizing that the drug reverses cell latency in cells containing HIV.
Perhaps most impressively, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Services (New Jersey Medical School) published a study about the effect of a topical anti-fungal drug on HIV-infected cells late last year. The drug – Ciclopirox – not only inhibits the expression of HIV, but causes the infected cell to effectively commit suicide by blocking an essential mitochondrial function. The drug has no effect on healthy cells, and what's more, there was no viral rebound when they removed the drug. Technically, Ciclopirox has yet to start clinical trials for this purpose, but since it's already approved by the FDA and the EMA for human use, it's expected to jump the typical development hoops much more quickly.
There have been significant strides made in the efficiency of HIV and AIDS medications and even more developments are on the near horizon. However, in some cases, the latest HIV and AIDS medications are also the most costly leaving them out of reach for some. Get more information and view free discounts available for HIV and AIDS medications at our HIV & AIDS Conditions Page.