The scale of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic is far greater than was predicted a decade ago. Already almost 20 million people have died of AIDS, over 30 million are currently living with HIV, and 16,000 new infections occur daily. It is clear that methods aimed at controlling the spread of the virus are failing to do so effectively. Existing AIDS therapies are out of reach for most HIV-infected people in developing countries and, where such therapies are available, their use is limited by toxicity and cost.
Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly apparent that current drugs are unable to purge the body of the virus and that discontinuation of the commonly used triple therapy leads to a rebound of plasma viraemia. Development of an effective HIV vaccine therefore remains one of the most pressing challenges facing modern medicine, and new types of drugs to treat already established disease are needed urgently.
In this month’s Nature Insight (see Nature, Vol. 410, No. 6831, 19 Apr 2001), leading HIV experts examine the biology of the virus and the disease it causes, give an overview on the current status of the AIDS pandemic, and review the efforts underway to control and curb it.
(C) Nature press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza