HIV and AIDS Research
HIV and AIDS research focuses on prevention, testing, and treatment.
A major focus of HIV research is preventing the infection in the first place.
According to a study conducted in Africa, circumcision may reduce men's risk of acquiring HIV.
- Genetic research
A new study suggests that certain genetic variants may provide protection against HIV infection.
- HIV vaccine
To date, the development of an HIV vaccine remains elusive, because the virus is constantly mutating. Early in 2007 researchers led by a team at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), identified a stable surface protein of HIV that might be vulnerable to antibody attack.
Microbicides are creams, gels, or suppositories that can kill or neutralize viruses and bacteria. Various companies are developing microbicides that could be applied to condoms or the genitals to block HIV. In 2007 scientists in the United States have identified the primary HIV targets in the human vagina. This discovery shows promise in the eventual development of new techniques to prevent the transmission of HIV.
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis
Several studies are investigating antiretroviral drugs that would safely prevent healthcare workers from getting infected with HIV without increasing drug resistance.
- Safer sex practices
Several organizations are researching behavior interventions and risk-reduction counseling for sexually active people.
- Transmission to newborns
A Ugandan study found an affordable, effective, and safe drug for preventing the transmission of HIV from an infected mother to her newborn. Independent studies have confirmed this finding.
One of the issues with HIV testing is the delay in getting accurate test results. The development of HIV rapid test now provides test results in 30 minutes or less.
Several antiretroviral drugs being developed may simplify therapy and be less susceptible to the development of drug resistance.
- New class of HIV medications
Early in 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee voted unanimously to recommend the approval of Monogram Biosciences and Pfizer's investigational HIV medication maraviroc (a CCR5 antagonist). Instead of fighting the virus from inside infected white blood cells, CCR5 antagonists stop the virus from getting into cells. Although the FDA is not bound by the committee's recommendations, the FDA usually follows them.
- Biological response modifiers
Biological response modifiers activate the body's immune defenses against viruses and tumors.
- HIV integrase inhibitors
HIV integrase inhibitors block the enzyme responsible for the integration of HIV's genetic code into the infected cell's genetic code.
- HIV maturation inhibitors
HIV maturation inhibitors prevent the final step in the processing of the protein shell that surrounds the virus's RNA (ribonucleic acid).
- Viral-entry inhibitors
Viral-entry inhibitors use different techniques to block the entry of HIV into a cell, such as blocking the attachment of HIV to the cell, blocking receptors that are required for viral entry, or blocking the fusion of HIV to the cell membrane.
Compassionate UseCompassionate use provides antiretroviral drugs that show promise during their clinical trials to people who are unable to use current therapies due to drug resistance or serious side effects. This early use still requires case-by-case approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
New HIV drugAfter a priority review in 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved raltegravir (Isentress) tablets for the treatment of HIV infection. Raltegravir is the first drug of the class HIV integrase strand transfer inhibitors, which interferes with an enzyme HIV needs to multiply. When taken in combination with other anti-HIV drugs, Isentress is able to reduce HIV levels in the blood of people whose HIV infections aren't controlled by the currently available antiretroviral medications.