Being Alive 1998 Mar 5: 4
On the first day of the Conference, Dr. W. Gary Tarpley of
Pharmacia and Upjohn gave a presentation about the complexities
of developing new antiretroviral drugs and novel strategies for
fighting AIDS. His opening remarks are worth repeating here.
What I find particularly sobering about the AIDS epidemic today
is not just the global magnitude of the problems, with millions
of patients infected worldwide, but the realization that in the
last decade, despite the world's best effort to stop the spread
of this virus, it has now established itself in every major
world population, and will likely never go away.
If any of these populations ignore this virus, now or until
forever, it will spread more broadly within that population.
Without an effective vaccine, which we all know is not
imminent, the major therapeutic option for these millions of
infected people will be antiviral chemotherapy. I personally
think it's very unlikely we will ever eradicate the virus from
an infected patient. Rather, I think we should consider this
infection as chronic and permanent.
In the absence of complete drug suppression, we must consider
that all drug efficacy will be time-limited. I think we should
be very encouraged by the significant advances of HAART (Highly
Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy) during the last few years, but
I also do not think we should be complacent about the future.
With a pathogen like HIV, which has established itself
throughout the world, which initiates a chronic and permanent
infection and which has tremendous replicating potential if
unleashed by incomplete suppression, I think we must prepare
for a future scenario in which, over time, this virus will
learn to evade all the current drugs we have. And therefore we
are going to have a continual need for new and potent
antivirals that can target drug-resistant virus.