NJ company’s new HIV medication a boon, but serious threat remains
A New Jersey drug company is testing a new HIV medication that may keep the virus at bay, but medical professionals say that doesn’t mean the threat of the disease has been eradicated.
Twenty-five years ago, if you were infected with HIV, it was considered a death sentence, but today, for many New Jersey residents who are HIV positive, the virus is a more manageable condition that requires one or two pills a day.
More recently, we’ve learned that New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson has partnered with ViiV Healthcare on a medication being tested that keeps HIV patients healthy with a single injection given once every one or two months.
According to Dr. Ted Louie, an Infectious disease expert with the Medical Society of New Jersey, many HIV patients, young and old, will have their blood work checked two or three times a year to make sure their medication levels are correct
But this new advancement doesn’t mean the HIV threat has been eliminated completely.
“In affluent countries such as the United States I would expect that HIV is not going to be a problem,” he said. “The only issue is compliance, for example if you have people without insurance.”
Louie, who is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Saint Peter’s University Hospital as well as Highland Park Medical group, says provided that you “have medical care, you have access to drugs and doctors, then there really should not be a problem.”
Nevertheless, he said this does not mean the HIV is gone, or has been destroyed.
“The HIV virus is quite cunning,” he said. “It has hiding places within the immune system so it will come out if you stop the medicine.”
He adds while we continue to develop more and more effective HIV treatment we still don’t know how to wipe out the virus.
“At this point I think that’s a little bit optimistic, so I think the best we can hope for right now is that we have effective medicine that is long acting and very easy to use,” Louie said.
The doctor also said efforts have been underway for many years to develop an HIV vaccine, “but the virus is incredibly complex and every attempt we’ve made so far has not borne fruit.”
According to Louie, if someone is HIV positive but taking medication, passing the virus to someone else through bodily fluids is possible but very rare.