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Drugs That Saved HIV Patients Now Threaten Them in Old Age

Wednesday, 20 July 2016 Written by // Guest Authors - Revolving Door Categories // Aging, Gay Men, Research, Sexual Health, Health, International , Revolving Door, Guest Authors

From, Ketaki Gokhale explains how the graying face of HIV has spurred a race to simplify therapies.

Drugs That Saved HIV Patients Now Threaten Them in Old Age

This article by  previously appeared on where you can read the whole story.

Two decades ago, Gus Cairns was certain AIDS would kill him. He had buried his partner and seen countless friends succumb to the disease. Cairns was constantly tired, he lost 35 pounds because he couldn’t keep food down, and he suffered from chronic stomach bugs. In 1993, he retired from his work as a therapist to start preparing for the inevitable.

But death didn’t come.

“We were at the peak of people dying of AIDS, and then the drugs came along -- and we all started living,’’ says Cairns, appearing fit and vigorous as he sips tea at a café near London’s King’s Cross railway station. “It’s astounding.’’

At age 60, Cairns has become the new face of HIV. Antiretroviral therapy has turned what was once a death sentence into a chronic disease, which means more patients are living into their 60s and even 70s. Some 36 percent of HIV-positive adults in developed countries are now 50 or over, up from 13 percent in 2000, according to UNAIDS. By 2020, more than 70 percent of HIV-positive people in the U.S. will be over 50, according to the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America.

That’s an unalloyed success, but HIV medications are typically toxic not only for the virus, but also for the people who take them. That poses a new challenge for drugmakers: Making medications that subdue the illness without wreaking havoc on aging bodies, and minimizing the risk of harmful drug interactions for people who might have to take their HIV medications alongside pills for blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes.

Since 1996, HIV has been treated with so-called combination therapies, where three or more drugs attack the virus so it has a harder time developing resistance. For nearly a decade, Truvada from Gilead Sciences Inc. has been the preferred basis of therapy, but it’s known for harsh side effects such as kidney damage and loss of bone density -- concerns that are typically even worse for older patients.

To read the rest pf the article go here. 

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