Sunday, September 5, 2010

An AIDS activist participates in a clinical trial for the cure.

It seems like a long time, about a half of my life, that I’ve lived with HIV. Looking back on the days when HIV was not even named yet I can hardly believe I have survived this long. My struggle for survival has been rocky yet I’m lucky to be alive despite the toll on my battered immune system by a devious virus. But I’ve also been tenacious and resilient in trying drug after drug and enrolling in many risky clinical trials, always looking forward to the next treatment, making it to a ripe old age of 54. 

Almost from day one I read everything there was about this disease. I ordered fact sheets from Project Inform where I am now on staff, leading advocacy efforts to find a cure. I taught myself, as many of my comrades did, to learn all there was to learn about HIV and the immune system it attacked. As a member of ACT UP I was arrested in civil disobedience actions, fighting for everything from stigma and discrimination to NIH funding and FDA inaction. Things have quieted down due to the success of the very drugs many people tested in those clinical trials. But I recognize that a life of antiretroviral medications just won’t cut it, for me and for the millions of HIV+ people, especially when there is now a concentrated effort to find a cure. I feel like we deserve an end to this fight.

Today, almost 22 years after my diagnosis I am in an early phase clinical research study to test a gene therapy concept that may lead to more answers towards a cure.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

AIDS Quest to Kill `Sleeping' Virus Enlists Merck Cancer Drug

AIDS Quest to Kill `Sleeping' Virus Enlists Merck Cancer Drug - Bloomberg: "Researchers at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill plan to test Merck’s drug, Zolinza, next year in about 20 people infected with HIV, the AIDS virus. The goal is to determine if Zolinza, or a medicine like it, can force HIV out of cells where it can reside, concealed from attack by potent antiviral treatments, said David Margolis, a professor of medicine who’s leading the research."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Specific eradication of HIV-1 from infected cultured cells

AIDS Research and Therapy: "A correlation between increase in the integration of Human Immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) cDNA and cell death was previously established. Here we show that combination of peptides that stimulate integration together with the protease inhibitor Ro 31-8959 caused apoptotic cell death of HIV infected cells with total extermination of the virus. This combination did not have any effect on non-infected cells. Thus it appears that cell death is promoted only in the infected cells. It is our view that the results described in this work suggest a novel approach to specifically promote death of HIV-1 infected cells and thus may eventually be developed into a new and general anti-viral therapy." [full text free]