Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Taming a deadly disease

From the Globe and Mail:
Twenty-five years after the discovery of the AIDS virus, the deadly disease has been halted in its tracks – so much so that sufferers are now dying at a ripe old age.

Nearly 85 per cent of patients being treated for HIV-AIDS with drug cocktails have undetectable levels of virus in their bloodstream, according to new data from the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV-AIDS in Vancouver.

“People with HIV are not exempt from destiny,” Dr. Julio Montaner, the centre's director, said in an interview, “but they are no longer dying from AIDS.” That fact, he said, “really tells the story of how far we've come with treatment.”

When Margaret Heckler, then secretary-general of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, announced at a Washington news conference on April 23, 1984, that the “probable cause” of AIDS had been found, she boldly predicted a vaccine within two years and eradication of the disease by 1990.

If only it were so.

There is still no vaccine, no cure, and HIV-AIDS continues to spread relentlessly, with 2.7 million new infections worldwide last year and 33 million people living with the virus. ...more

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