Berlin – 38 million people worldwide live with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) today. Until the mid-1990s, HIV infection often led to the fatal disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Nowadays there are effective therapy options that enable those affected to enjoy a high quality of life and at the same time prevent viruses from multiplying. More and more people infected with HIV worldwide have access to such antiretroviral therapies – good news on the occasion of today’s World AIDS Day!
It’s a small success story: Ten years ago, according to the United Nations Joint Program for HIV / AIDS (Unaids), only about a quarter of all people with HIV had access to therapy, last year it was almost three quarters (73 percent) . “Once the infection, which has often been undetected for a long time, is diagnosed, 97 percent of those affected in Germany begin antiretroviral therapy, which in turn reduces the viral load in 96 percent,” says Dr. Pablo Serrano, Head of Innovation and Research as well as Biotechnology at the Federal Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry eV (BPI). “According to the German AIDS Foundation, these people have a life expectancy that is almost as long as people without HIV.”
Reduce viral load – maintain the immune system
“Antiretroviral therapies are drugs that push the viral load below the detection limit. Even if these drugs cannot remove the HIV virus from the body cells of those affected, the patients are usually no longer infectious, ”says Pablo Serrano. Around 20 years ago, patients had to take around 20 tablets three to four times a day at precisely defined times. Nowadays, many people affected only have to take the active ingredient combinations in the form of tablets once a day in order to prevent the outbreak of AIDS and the associated damage to the immune system.
HIV research continues
In addition to the search for new therapeutic breakthroughs, such as vaccination against HIV, pharmaceutical manufacturers are also looking at the question of how existing therapeutic options can be improved. In addition, they are testing new dosage forms: There are already liquid formulations that can be injected at longer intervals from one another. For those affected whose HI viruses are resistant to certain active substances, drugs from other groups of active substances are also available – for example monoclonal antibodies. Good news on World AIDS Day!
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