AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is widely discussed today. Governments across the world have raised awareness about it, designed healthcare programs for those affected and also invested in research. A disease that impacts the body’s natural defence mechanism against diseases, AIDS occurs due to interaction or contact with infected bodily fluids.
We know much about the disease and its management today but back in the 1980s when initial cases were being reported, the medical community was taken by surprise. Cases were rising rapidly and there was not much information on how to treat the disorder. It was then that Dr Fauci, renowned immunologist and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, decided to understand the illness and develop a treatment.
That was close to 40 years ago and Dr Fauci recently recalled the time when he noticed that a new and deadly disease was on the rise. In an interview with the US-based Today show on NBC, Dr Fauci said:
“It was a particularly transforming time. I can remember very distinctly sitting in my office outside my lab in the clinical center hospital where I saw the first (report) describing the first five patients from Los Angeles with this curious new disease, with nobody knowing what was going on.”
He revealed that a month after this, another 26 cases were reported with similar symptoms. Speaking about the moment, the immunologist said:
“I remember sitting at my desk looking at that and literally getting chills up and down my spine saying, ‘Oh my God, this is a new disease. It has to be a new disease. I had no idea what it was or where it came from.”
The cases were rising rapidly while there was still not much information on what could be done for its treatment. That’s when Dr Fauci made a career decision that was tough:
“Everything was great, my career was going along well, and I said, ‘Wow, I’ve got to study this new disease because it looks like it’s an infection, and it looks like it’s destroying the immune system.’ So I made a decision right then that I would start and literally stop what I was doing.”
Dr Fauci and his team of researchers started looking for treatments and a possible vaccine to prevent the disease. The journey, however, was not an easy one. It took years of hard work and effort to come up with certain medicines that can be made part of the management of AIDS. At the same time, due to the stigma associated with AIDS, it was difficult to gather resources and raise awareness about it:
“We were trying to convince people that this was not something that was going to go away, this was something that was gonna get worse and worse.”
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After years of results, certain developments did make a positive impact.
Currently, there are two prime ways of managing AIDS:
Speaking about how research and the development of medicines have affected those infected by HIV, Dr Fauci said that the disease went from “almost an absolutely inevitable death sentence to people who are now living virtually normal lives. It was important for the people who were living with HIV to know that, scientifically, they did not pose a threat to anyone if, in fact, they took their medicines and their viral load remained low detectable.”
The medical community has truly ensured that the number of new AIDS infections can come down with its hard work and effort!