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Helping Those who Live with HIV

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By: Bill Ashton
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Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a condition rather than a disease in which the human immune system breaks down and fails to fight against infections. AIDS is the most advanced form of HIV infection. Currently, there is no complete treatment to cure for HIV but antiretroviral drugs can be taken to control HIV infection and people have been able to live full lives with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

As of now the goals of the treatment of HIV/AIDS are to prevent the virus from damaging the immune system, and stopping or delaying the progression of the infection. To achieve these goals antiretroviral therapy is used, which is a combination of three or more antiretroviral drugs.

Currently there are five broad categories of anti-HIV drugs – Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTI), Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTI), Protease Inhibitors (PI), Integrase inhibitors, Entry or Fusion Inhibitors.

ViiV Healthcare

Pfizer (PFE) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) created ViiV Healthcare in 2009 to specialize in HIV treatments as well as the needs of people living with HIV. Both the companies transferred their HIV assets to the new company. ViiV has a number of PI, NRTI, NNRTI, CCR5 antagonist, and Integrase inhibitors.

ViiV produces the following NRTIs – Epzicom/Kivexa (abacavir/lamivudine), Ziagen (abacavir), Trizivir (abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine), Combivir (lamivudine/zidovudine), Epivir (lamivudine), and Retrovir (zidovudine). ViiV also produces one NNRTI – Rescriptor (delavirdine mesylate).

NRTIs, also known as nukes, were the first type of drug available to treat HIV. And they are still some of the most effective treatments, usually when combined with other drugs.

When the HIV virus enters a healthy cell, it attempts to make copies of itself. It does this by using an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. NRTIs work because they block that enzyme. Without reverse transcriptase, HIV can't make new virus copies of itself.

ViiV produces two PIs as well – Lexiva (fosamprenavir), and Viracept (nelfinavir). It also produces a CCR5 antagonist – Selzentry (maraviroc) – and an integrase inhibitor – Tivicay (dolutegravir). Protease Inhibitors basically also work to limit the ability of the virus to multiply, thus giving the immune system a chance to work.

Merck

Merck (MRK), the second biggest drug maker in the US by sales, earned $1.5 billion, 3.3% of overall revenues, from its ant-HIV drug Raltegravir (Isentress). Isentress was approved by the FDA in 2007 and it is a HIV integrase inhibitor.

Merck is working globally to provide people with HIV/AIDS treatment, and is continuously focused on extensive research to produce anti-HIV drugs.

Cure for HIV/AIDS

Currently, there is no complete cure for HIV/AIDS available but researchers are continuously looking for ways to cure this fatal infection. Isolated cases and miraculous recoveries of a handful have also kept researchers in a search for a cure for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).Perhaps the most famous case is the Berlin Patient case, where Timothy Brown received two bone marrow transplants to treat Leukemia. After the transplant he not only was free from his leukemia in remission but his HIV levels also dropped and after 2008 he went off antiretroviral therapy.

Cases like these rekindle the hope for a cure for the deadly HIV/AIDS infection in the near future, which would save millions of lives.

 

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