IAVI REPORT – VOL. 15, NO. 3, 2011
This June, the world observed the 30th anniversary of the first published descriptions of a new human disease that would later be called AIDS. From the start, scientists and doctors responded rapidly, identifying the new human retrovirus that caused the disease, developing a blood test to detect the virus, and working to develop drugs that could beat back the furious replication and devastation HIV wreaked on the immune system. In this issue, we talk with the two scientists who will forever be remembered for their roles in the discovery of HIV and ask them to reflect on those early days (see HIV's Leading Men).
Over the past three decades, the advances in treating HIV/AIDS have been nothing short of remarkable. When the disease surfaced in the US, there were few drugs available to treaty any virus. Now, there are more than 30 drugs just for HIV, which have been hugely successful in extending the lives of HIV-infected individuals. Based on recent trial results, HIV drugs may also be key to preventing further spread of the virus (see Can Treatment End AIDS? ).
For nearly 30 years, researchers have also been striving to develop a vaccine to prevent the spread of the HIV pandemic, one of only a handful to inflict such devastation on the human population. There have been setbacks, to be sure, but also many promising discoveries, all of which have made many researchers more optimistic than ever that a preventive AIDS vaccine is possible. In a special timeline commemorating 30 years of AIDS, we document some of these key developments (see 30 Years of AIDS Vaccine Research).
Vaccines of all stripes are experiencing somewhat of a heyday. They were the subject of a special issue of Naturein May, the focus of a special Health Affairs issue in June, and the topic discussed and debated at the Pacific Health Summit, which was held recently in Seattle. Here, we’re always thinking about vaccines. In this issue, we examine one component of successful vaccines—adjuvants—which have been called a vaccinologist’s little secret (see A Vaccine's Little Helper). We also report on some recently published studies of HIV vaccine candidates in preclinical studies (see CMV Vaccine Shows Impressive Control in Nonhuman Primates andCorrelates of Protection from SIV Challenge Identified in Monkeys).
There continues to be great momentum in tackling this pandemic, and with continued financial and political support, scientific insights and discoveries, and human will, I am hopeful that one day, I will be able to pen a story about the end of AIDS.
—Kristen Jill Kresge, Managing Editor