A reader writes:
As a budding scientist who has been involved in the HIV field, it is rather frustrating to see media reports of the latest breakthrough in research without a full understanding of the findings and their significance (not that the medical establishment is not complicit … we put out these press releases in order to justify continued research money). As you are well aware, the field had been fraught with repeated false hopes and, after more than two decades of trying, we are no closer to a preventative vaccine than when we first started.
These findings today do not really change this fact. The same group has previously described another such neutralizing antibody but have been unsuccessful in their attempts to elicit this response in other individuals (this is the premise of a vaccine). The very fact that the vast majority of people fail to mount a significant immune response against the virus (unlike we do to most other pathogens) suggests that a vaccine may not even be possible in the first place. Pharmaceutical therapy, for better or worse, will remain our best response to this disease for the foreseeable future.
That being said, without any signs of the disease abating, research like this cannot be discounted. Just don’t expect results any time soon.
I don't. The Dish has long been dismissive of the search for a vaccine against HIV, but this did seem like a positive development. Another writes:
Thanks for that piece of news, Andrew. It actually brought tears to my eyes. I keep forgetting how much we suppress those hopes for a cure, then I read something like that and there's this flame, this glimmer of promise and I'm suddenly in tears. We forget how much that hope for a cure means to us, and how much we've pushed it aside and filed it away.
Right now I'm in this perfect storm of unemployment, heathcare crisis and AIDS.
Since I am, according to some, too lazy or drug-addled to find work, I've had to choose between my COBRA payments and my med copays and Dr. visits. I chose my COBRA payments for fear of that dreaded insurance lapse that would kick in pre-existing exclusions and not getting that all important certificate of coverage for my next (hopefully) job. Since I actually have a home (not sure for how long) and not totally homeless and destitute (yet) I don't qualify for a lot of help. Even if I did now, the state of GA, like many states, now have a Ryan White waiting list to get meds. Even my discount med cards from the drug companies didn't help enough to make them affordable.
So I'm waiting, waiting, waiting - so much has to fall into place, IF I can get a job in the next month or so, and IF they have good benefits, and IF the timing is just right, I might just be able to keep my insurance and go back on my life-saving meds. IF in the next month or so, I don't, I"m hitting several walls, my unemployment running out, my COBRA ending, foreclosure, bankruptcy. That's hoping too that after almost a year off my meds now, that I'm not blindsided by some totally preventable HIV related disease that would put me in the hospital and suddenly make any hope of this turning out well fly right out the window.
I have an older brother who is a wealthy retired executive from Philips, and very much a ditto head. They can't see giving me money since they would just be "enabling" me and keeping me from really looking a job (yes he really said that, almost a verbatim FOX talking talking point). Being a Christian though he did help me rewrite my resume. He keeps saying "just get private insurance" and even "just start my own company" but he hasn't a clue. With my meds running at $10,000 a month and having HIV/AIDS, I'm uninsurable through private health insurance, he doesn't understand that and almost refuses to believe it.
To address a lot of the current bashing of the unemployed: I'm a sharp hard working guy. I had the highest SAT scores in my class, I was pre-med at Wake Forest, two years ago I was making almost $60,000 a year, running an entire print production facility and doing it well. I've worked in consulting firms, F500 marketing departments, I have a killer resume. Yet...
So thanks again for that article. I do still hope. I've been in this crisis from the beginning, HIV+ back before there was even a test or a known cause. I had a partner who was only months ahead of me in progression, yet for every new drug that he just missed being able to take advantage of, I was able to. So our paths that at one time seemed to be almost lockstep veered apart and he died some 20 years ago and I'm still kicking around (I hope). I would just be crushed though that after living the miracle that being a 20+ year long-term survivor entails, that because of seemingly mundane things like a job and health insurance it might all be for nothing.