In the early 1980s, scientists worldwide noticed a puzzling occurrence – a mysterious illness affecting men and intravenous drug users disproportionately. Although the scientific community was aware of new cases, there was still no known cause for this strange affliction.
In 1984, however, medical researchers identified and isolated Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) from the patients affected by this illness. It was not until 1985-86 when widely available HIV blood tests were introduced, which allowed doctors and other health care workers to diagnose properly. This critical breakthrough enabled many individuals in western nations to take adequate preventative measures against HIV contamination and significantly halt the spread of this disease.
The research for HIV has been ongoing since 1985, with the priority of understanding, preventing and treating the virus growing year after year. In 1996, researchers at the 11th International Conference on AIDS in Vancouver presented their work on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
The treatment requires individuals to take a combination of at least three medications daily, and it became the new treatment standard in 1997.
In 2002, the breakthrough came with the launch of the first rapid HIV diagnostic test kit. This revolutionary technology allowed hospitals to rapidly provide results with an impressive 99.6% accuracy within twenty minutes – highlighting how far medical research has come to combat this terrible virus over the years.
In 2005, CDC released guidelines for the general public on using post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)- a drug treatment that can lower the risk of becoming infected with HIV. PEP usage typically involves taking one or more prescription medications daily.
In 2017, the CDC came with another research that says individuals who were HIV-positive but had undetectable levels of this virus in their blood could not transmit HIV through sexual contact.
This led the scientist to work on the development of vaccination for HIV with more public support.
Approval of Cabotegravir
In January 2021, the scientist introduced two HIV medications: cabotegravir (Vocabria) and cabotegravir/rilpivirine (Cabenuva) and got FDA approval for their public use.
Cabotegravir (Vocabria) proved effective for the short-term treatment of new infections and long-term maintenance therapy. It is one pill daily and must be taken with a meal.
Cobenuva is an injectable medication for HIV and is needed to be injected intramuscularly every 28 days.
After Covid 19, researchers have been working diligently to create a vaccine that can effectively combat HIV. Powerhouses in the pharmaceutical industry, such as Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are using similar technology to develop an HIV vaccine as they did with their successful COVID-19 vaccines.
While Johnson & Johnson announced that their phase 2 clinical trials for the HIV vaccine failed in September 2021, researchers remain hopeful in finding a vaccine to eradicate this virus.