tagline Spring 2012
- TAG at 20: Early Campaigns
Reforming NIH AIDS Research, Boosting the Budget, and Revitalizing the Basic Science of HIV Infection
On January 22, 2012, the Treatment Action Group marked its twentieth anniversary. Over the past two decades, we have helped to accelerate a historically unprecedented therapeutic revolution: the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in 1995–96, followed by its rollout to nearly seven million people worldwide. TAGline will publish a series of articles this year to examine the role of AIDS activism—and its evolving strategies—in these accomplishments, and how these experiences can help us build the long road towards the cure still ahead.
- The Odyssey of Therapeutic Vaccines for HIV
In the earliest days after the discovery of HIV in the mid-1980s, uncertainty reigned regarding how the immune system responded to the virus. Initially, it was thought that the time between HIV infection and the development of severe immuno- deficiency and disease represented a period of viral inactivity or latency. In this context, it seemed logical to propose that perhaps vaccination could be used to bolster the immune response to HIV and thus delay or even prevent the development of illness. But the first efforts toward this goal quickly mired therapeutic vaccine research in controversy, casting an initial pall across the field that was compounded by the failure of any candidate to show significant efficacy. Additionally, the scientific rationale for the approach evolved as more was learned about the pathogenesis of HIV infection and the types of immune responses that may be effective—and ineffective—at controlling the virus. After a period in which enthusiasm regarding the prospects for therapeutic vaccines waned, the recent resurgence in interest in research aiming to cure HIV infection has offered new reasons to pursue their development.
- What You Don’t Know, You Can Sell
Merck’s Cavalier Attitude Towards the Welfare of HIV/HCV Coinfected Patients
In places where access to antiretroviral therapy is widespread, people living with HIV are now dying from a common and curable coinfection: hepatitis C virus (HCV). HIV increases the risk for, and accelerates the rate of, liver disease from hepatitis C. Pegylated interferon and ribavirin, medications used to treat HCV, are less effective in people with HIV than in their HCV-monoinfected counterparts. In 2011, the first hepatitis C protease inhibitors, Merck’s boceprevir and Vertex’s telaprevir, were approved based on trials in people with hepatitis C monoinfection. Both drugs are being studied in coinfected people, thanks to pressure from the international HIV/HCV community and encouragement from regulatory agencies.
- Does Obama’s 2013 Budget Herald the End of PEPFAR?
Devastating Funding Proposal Undermines the Global Fight Against AIDS
A sense of disbelief washed over the global AIDS community last month when President Obama unveiled his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal to cut $563 million from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program. Cuts of this magnitude could lead to half a million people being denied lifesaving treatment, and countless preventable new infections. Shock and dismay have since given way to frustration; some feel the administration is signaling that an era of U.S. leadership in the global fight against AIDS may be coming to an end.
- Childhood TB Advocacy Picks Up Steam
The neglected crisis of childhood tuberculosis (TB) is finally garnering some long-overdue attention. TAG hosted Forgotten But Not Gone: Childhood TB, a federal advocacy dialogue and strategy session in Washington, D.C. this January. We brought together over 50 researchers, clinicians, implementers, and global advocates from the TB, HIV, and maternal- and child-health communities to advance the discussion.