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To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

HIV vaccines and ending the pandemic: 12/18/2017

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

An HIV vaccine does not have to be 100 percent effective to thwart the global HIV/AIDS pandemic that impacts about 36.7 million persons, explains a viewpoint recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Anthony Fauci M.D., the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, writes (and we quote): 'if current treatment and prevention efforts are continued and an HIV vaccine that is about 50% effective is developed and deployed, millions of additional new HIV infections could be averted, and the pandemic could slow substantially' (end of quote).

Fauci reports a recent HIV vaccine trial in Thailand only reduced the risk of infection by 31 percent. In contrast, Fauci explains (and we quote): 'other vaccines used in controlling or ending global outbreaks have been much more effective' (end of quote). For example, Fauci notes the effectiveness of vaccines that control measles, polio, and yellow fever are close to 100 percent.

While Fauci explains it may be unrealistic to attain complete protection via an HIV vaccine, HIV could be better contained internationally by a somewhat improved vaccine coupled with the current medications for infected patients as well as expanding treatments for persons whose behavioral patterns or life situation place them at a higher risk of exposure.

Currently, Fauci explains there are more than 30 highly effective anti-HIV drugs available around the world to assist HIV-infected adults and children. He writes (and we quote): 'when given in combinations of three or more, these medications can durably suppress the virus such that patients who are treated soon after infection and continue therapy throughout their lifetime can expect to have an almost-normal life expectancy' (end of quote). Fauci reports the internationally successful efforts to use medications to treat persons and contain the HIV virus are termed 'treatment as prevention.'

Yet, Fauci notes about 17 million infected adults and children do not receive HIV medications. As a result, Fauci explains one way to reduce the future numbers of infected persons is to provide existing medications to uninfected persons whose behavioral patterns or life situations are likely to increase their HIV exposure.

Fauci suggests the latter strategy could lower the risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity from 70 to 90 percent, depending on whether existing oral or injected medications are used.

Still, Fauci explains the high cost to medicate the 38.7 million current HIV patients and 1.8 million persons who are infected annually needs to be addressed via preventive vaccination efforts designed to reduce global treatment needs. He concludes (and we quote): 'the development of a moderately effective vaccine together with optimal implementation of existing treatment and prevention modalities could end the current HIV pandemic' (end of quote).

Meanwhile, information about current HIV vaccines (from the Immunization Action Coalition) is available within the 'related issues' section of MedlinePlus.gov's HIV/AIDS health topic page.

An explanation of the concept of therapeutic HIV vaccines (from AIDSinfo) is available within the 'research' section of MedlinePlus.gov's HIV/AIDS health topic page. A link to specific information about HIV medications (from MedlinePlus) is available within the 'treatments and therapies' section.

MedlinePlus.gov's HIV/AIDS health topic page also provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the 'journal articles' section. You can sign up for clinical trials that may be in your area within the 'clinical trials' section. In addition, you can sign up to receive updates about HIV/AIDS as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov's HIV/AIDS health topic page, please type 'HIV' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'HIV/AIDS (National Library of Medicine).'

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It was nice to be with you and best wishes for the holiday season. Please join us here next week and here's to your health!