In 1987, the first drug against HIV, azidothymidine (AZT), was approved by the FDA. At that time in the epidemic, an estimated 15,000 people were dying of HIV-related causes per year. That number would continue to climb, reaching a peak of between 45,000-50,000 deaths per year in 1995. AZT, despite being effective against HIV initially, quickly lost its potency as the virus rapidly mutated and developed resistance to the drug.
On December 6, 1995, the first protease inhibitor was finally approved by the FDA and so began the era of highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART). Thanks to HAART, the death rate from AIDS dropped by 80% between 1996-1998 in the developed world. What was once thought of as a death sentence suddenly became a manageable disease. Through additional education and treatment, the spread of HIV in the United States and Canada began to decline.
Born in late 1980s, it is admittedly difficult for either of us to think of HIV as an epidemic. We grew up in an era where treatment was made available and education mandatory. But HIV was, and in some parts of the world, still is, a devastating epidemic that destroys entire communities. Though HAART treatment has greatly extended the lifespan of those with HIV, it is still not a cure.
In this issue of IMMpress Magazine, we invite you to examine the history of HIV through an informative timeline, to learn about the recent advances in HIV vaccine development, and to read about some of the many researchers in our department who continue to drive HIV research forward.
As always, we would like to thank our many contributors, dedicated designers, loyal editors, stylish photographers, and keen illustrators. Your combined efforts ensure that this magazine continues to shine on par with the best of them.
We would also like to thank all our dedicated sponsors, the Department of Immunology and our chair, Dr. Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker for their continued support. Your dedication ensures that this magazine will continue for years to come.
On a final note, we at IMMpress Magazine have recently made a promotional video for your enjoyment. We encourage everyone to watch it, and as always, to get involved with this rewarding initiative.