The 2012 National HIV Testing Day was created in an effort to raise awareness in regards to the disease, as well as to highlight the availability of testing resources. Medical advances continue to provide hope
for those afflicted; and while no complete "cure" is yet available that can completely eradicate the disease, there are new medications and treatment regimens that are proving more effective than ever at suppressing HIV and placing it further away from the death sentence it was once known as.The Advancement of Treatments
In the past, doctors used only one or two drugs to treat HIV. Today, there are many, many different drugs available in a few categories, and scientists and health experts alike now know that in order to most effectively treat HIV, it's important to administer a combination of at least three drugs from two different classes. That's because if the same drug is used repeatedly, or the combination is too simple, a new strain of HIV could develop that is immune to the treatment. There are five general classes that all HIV drugs fall under:
- Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors - NRTIs are basically weakened, defective building blocks that HIV needs to continue replicating. Once the NRTIs have entered the system, it eventually disrupts HIV's ability to make copies of itself.
- Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors - NNRTIs work very similar to NRTIs, but instead of pretending to be an essential ingredient to the HIV cloning process, NNRTIs completely disable a certain protein that is needed by HIV to replicate.
- Entry inhibitors - As the name suggests, this class includes drugs that prevent HIV from entering into CD4 cells.
- Integrase inhibitors - Works much like NNRTIs, but disables another important protein known as integrase. Integrase is the protein that allows HIV to force itself into CD4 cells.
- Protease inhibitors - PIs disable yet another protein called protease that is involved in the cloning process.
By using a combination of drugs from these classes, a formidable opponent is created that attacks HIV from many different angles. A Cure in Sight?
There are a few complete cures that may emerge in the future, but for the time being development is in the earliest of stages. There are several reasons as to why clinical trials and mass production is out of our reach for now - many think the trials could be dangerous for test subjects, and HIV is a long-term virus that requires extensive testing before experts can truly and honestly say they've found a complete cure.
Luckily, the number of HIV cases continues to decline each year, due in part to the huge awareness surrounding the immunodeficiency virus. Treatments are allowing individuals to lead relatively normal lives without pause, and safety is now on the forefront of many minds.
Getting tested for HIV can rule out the possibility and put you at ease, or it may help identify the disease early in its life cycle. It's recommended to visit a local clinic and take an STD yearly, and an HIV exam whenever you feel you may be at risk. Click here
to find a testing site near you to schedule an appointment.
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"HIV/AIDS - Treatment and Drugs." MayoClinic.com
. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 24 June 2012. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hiv-aids/ds00005/dsection=treatments-and-drugs>.
Jarvis, Tim. "An Off Switch for Disease?" Oprah.com
. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2012. <http://www.oprah.com/health/RNAi-Based-Treatments-and-Possible-Cures-for-HIV-and-Cancer>.