Attention – Due To Allegations of Plagiarism, This Article Is Highly Suspect     


It is a government policy by the HIV-positive for the HIV-positive. From January 2007, a new state policy to tackle AIDS will come into effect in the state — drafted by people afflicted with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) themselves.

This is another first for Maharashtra, which last month became the first state to introduce a workplace AIDS policy to ensure that state employees affected by the virus were not discriminated against.

In November, the government constituted a group, consisting entirely of HIV-positive people, to draft the state’s policy on fighting AIDS. After two days of brainstorming, the ‘positives’ submitted their draft.

Among other suggestions, the draft urged the state to strengthen anti-retroviral treatment centres in districts by training doctors, nurses and paramedics to tackle AIDS better.

After 25 years, 25 million deaths, and billions of dollars spent on research, the only real “cure” for AIDS is still prevention – both behavioral and biological. One of the landmark public health accomplishments of the 20th century has been vaccinations to prevent diseases like smallpox, polio and diphtheria from happening in the first place. Unfortunately, the quest for an AIDS vaccine, while ongoing, has been elusive. Since 1987, researchers have studied more than 50 different vaccine candidates to prevent HIV/AIDS in more than 80 NIAID-funded clinical trials without success yet. The challenge in producing an effective vaccine lies in the biology of the disease itself. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is constantly mutating, resulting in many different strains within each individual; vaccines against other viruses have only had to protect the person against one or a limited number of strains. The disease also destroys the very immune cells (called CD4 lymphocytes) needed to fight the virus. Furthermore, because no one has ever recovered from HIV, researchers have no model, human or animal, to imitate in designing an effective immune response to the disease. The search for a vaccine is a top priority and that’s why the NIH is putting billions behind CHAVI (The Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology) and a new $287 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will support a large-scale innovative collaboration among 19 countries to develop an AIDS vaccine, synergizing ongoing efforts at the NIH and other institutions. Scientists from four continents are also studying whether the same medications that transformed AIDS from a death sentence into a treatable condition a decade ago, may have promise in preventing the disease as well. An estimated $54 million is being spent on the quest to discover a prevention pill to block infection by HIV in several clinical trials worldwide. Researchers at the 16th International AIDS Conference presented their work suggesting that some AIDS drugs used in HAART might be also used to prevent the disease. In the developing world, the virus spreads to 4 million adults and children every year. The idea is to create a hostile environment for any virus that enters the bloodstream. However, some researchers caution that if a person becomes HIV positive while taking a prevention pill, resistance might develop making these drugs ineffective as a treatment. Additionally, efforts to develop microbicides that could prevent HIV infection have also proved elusive. Here, again, the NIH, Gates Foundation, and other organizations are investing in the development and testing of microbicides to fight the virus, especially to help protect women who now constitute 50% of infected people worldwide.

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