By: Miles Young.
Millions of people are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus, and the number continues to grow each year. According to journalist and activist Serena Gordon, “The effect that AIDS is having on American kids has improved greatly in recent years, thanks to effective drugs and prevention methods.” However, we haven’t found a cure yet. Even if a cure is discovered, distribution may be limited by cost. World Health Organization recently reported that only 28 percent of children who need HIV treatment are getting it. Take a look at these organizations that are making big strides in HIV/AIDS research.
Finding a Cure for Infants With AIDS
More than one million women of child-bearing age are infected with HIV (90 percent live in sub-Saharan Africa). When a woman with HIV becomes pregnant, this puts the baby at risk for contracting the disease through vertical transmission. However, antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy helps prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child in most cases. Organizations often go to Africa to spread awareness of antiretroviral therapy to change lives and communities.
In the United States, healthcare providers do everything possible to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to baby during birth but it is not always successful. That’s why Yvonne Bryson, chief of pediatricinfectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California conducts research to put HIV in remission in babies as soon as they are exposed to the virus.
Bryson explains, “The way it works is you test and you treat before you know the results because it takes several days to get the results.” When a mother is HIV positive, babies are tested right after birth and receive treatment at four hours of age. Doctors are hesitant to say the words “cure” or “complete remission” because the studies are still early, but there are two babies so far that appear to no longer have the disease because they received the treatment shortly after birth. In the future, babies born with HIV may be cured because of very early treatment.
Blood Filtering Techniques
Dr. Carl June at the University of Pennsylvania studies the effect of blood filtering on patients with HIV/AIDS. Based on his studies, the number of white blood cells that were still infected with HIV was reduced after treatment with filtering. The filter is ceramic, and has been used before for filtering of water and air. This nano-filtration technique may have great potential if its clinical efficacy is improved.
AIDS Walk Philly Raises Money for HIV/AIDS Research
In partnership with 30 local organizations, AIDS Walk Philly hosts a 12K walk/5K run each year in Philadelphia. The purpose is to spread awareness and raise money for HIV/AIDS research. One of the major benefactors of AIDS Walk Philly is the Calcutta House, where people who have AIDS and are below the poverty line can go to live. There are outreach programs that bring students to the Calcutta House to foster relationships with residents that have HIV/AIDS. Spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS is a major prevention measure.