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HIV/AIDS - The Rapid Pace Of Research - 2003-11-12


A leading AIDS researcher says information about the disease is constantly changing, making it difficult for elected officials and communities to keep up to date.

Dr. Vincent Idemyor is director of pharmaceutical services at Advocate Bethany hospital in Chicago and teaches at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He was recently honored by the Illinois Department of Public Health, receiving the Red Ribbon Award for his work advocating equitable HIV/AIDS policies. From Chicago, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the frequency of updated information about HIV/AIDS.

He says new information about the disease comes out every three months, so it’s important for the medical community to pass as much of it along to the general public as soon as possible. He says information needs to be updated because scientists are constantly learning new things about the disease.

There are currently about twenty anti-retroviral drugs available to slow reproduction of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The increasing number of drugs allows doctors to come up with different combinations if patients build up a resistance to medications and the virus begins to replicate at high numbers again. Dr. Idemyor says it’s unclear at this time how many of these drugs will be made available to developing countries. But he’s urging they all be made available to those in poor countries to ensure the best chances of survival.

As for microbicides, a gel that would be used like a spermicide to kill HIV, clinical trials continue. In the past, microbicides have proven to be unsuccessful in preventing infection.

As for a vaccine, Dr. Idemyor says it will be 7 to 8 years at a minimum before a vaccine is found because of the lengthy process that’s needed in testing potential vaccines.

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