HIV and AIDS awareness day calls for attention on progress in the research community. Outside of medicine, AIDS and HIV screenings have been at no cost to patients on health care plans. This has been made possible through the Affordable Care Act which was a presidential move that has overall assisted various populations, especially for the large groups of people who would have previously been unable to afford screening. Now, we see that AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) can be removed globally through early HIV detection, leading us into the dawn of a cure.
HIV has been a growing concern since the late 70s’ and 80’s. Finally, as knowledge expanded, general questioning grew into widespread fear as the country traversed the 90’s. Early treatment has proven to be the best course of remedial action for anyone who wishes to fight the disease. Dr. Hannah Gay, a medical professional who treated an infant for the HIV infection, did so with combinations of prescriptions that have anti-viral effects. Unfortunately, the mother stopped bringing her daughter in for treatment. The doctors grew concerned. After establishing communication with the mother, the infant was tested to see how much HIV was in her blood. The tests showed no signs of the infection. This led researchers to believe children, toddlers, and even infants who are treated aggressively might be cured with the right regimen.
The doctors who saw the baby now are hesitant to continue calling this a cure. Rather, it is generally preferred to be considered “in remission.” However, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that reported no rebounds out of remission after treatment. AIDS can thus possibly be cured in infants if the HIV infection is detected early. Since hearing about this case of HIV “remission,” in recent months, many people have brought heat on their doctors. Practitioners have no answers for those wanting the cure; they do not know what remedial method was used, and the treatment can only benefit those who have been recently infected.
National Black HIV and AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) has a motto that pushes people toward education, testing and treatment: Get Educated, Get Tested, Get Involved, and Get Treated. This holiday is observed across the United States. The theme of NBHAAD is that, “Awareness is crucial for people willing to take control of their lives.” The Center for Disease Control estimates over 1 million people age 13 and older may have HIV in the United States. There are reportedly 50,000 new infections every year. In an attempt to bring further control to the public, one company has manufactured a product that can be sold to consumers.
The OraSure product, OraQuick, is the first FDA approved in-home HIV test kit. This is not a blood test but an oral swab culture. Claimed to be the same test used for years by professionals, it requires a 30 minute time frame prior to use during which the person does not eat, or drink, or use any oral care products. OraSure claims 70 percent of women with HIV have obtained the virus from heterosexual sex. Risk factors may be unforeseeable until it is too late. For those who have been living with the virus, they will continue to wait for the cure.
Luckily there are available drugs that save lives which would otherwise have ended, or cut short, from the immunodeficiency virus. The FDA has approved a total of 25 antiretroviral medications. These drugs are intended to lower the viral load, control the growth of the virus, improve overall immune system function, and produce as little side effects as possible.
Some claim this is no permanent solution since people who are infected generally are able to live a normal life. If people become aware of their status through periodic screening, the rate of transmission might decrease enough to pose less of a threat to the general public. AIDS might succumb to defeat in the coming years, and the cure starts with this: early detection of HIV.
By Lindsey Alexander