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Mapping HIV virus for more effective treatment

Deakin University scientists, with support from CSIRO, have revealed for the first time the individual protein blocks that form the HIV virus.

It is hoped that the research will enable the development of effective and affordable new antivirals to treat millions of people living with HIV.

The exact way the virus formed had eluded scientist for the past 30 years so that current antivirals created only a partial understanding of how the pieces joined together.

“Inadequate supply of anti-HIV drugs in low- and middle-income countries has created an ideal breeding ground for the emergence of drug resistant HIV, which threatens the long-term effectiveness of patient care using existing anti-HIV agents,” said senior researcher Professor Johnson Mak, from Deakin University’s Centre for Molecular and Medical Research.

Professor Mak hoped his team’s work would go on to inform the development of new drugs that work by interfering with the formation of infectious virus particles – essentially blocking HIV from taking a hold on patients.

HIV continues to be a major global public health issue.  UNAIDs estimates in 2015, an estimated 36.7 million people were living with HIV, there were 2.1 million new infections worldwide and in the same year 1.1 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses.

The AMA this year launched its updated position statement on blood borne viruses (BBVs).  The statement expressed the AMA’s support for the availability of new, regularly evaluated treatments for BBVs. 

Further, it acknowledged that prevention, treatment, and management of BBVs is a public health priority that requires a coordinated and strategic policy response, with national leadership driving actions to sustain improvements in their prevention, detection, and treatment. A copy of the statement can be found at: position-statement/blood-borne-viruses-bbvs-2017      

Meredith Horne