Jason Tokumoto, MD, infectious disease clinician at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, discusses the evolution of HIV treatment.
Interview Transcript (modified slightly for readability):
Tokumoto: HIV treatment has really evolved over the last several years. Initially when these medications appeared, it was really restricted in terms of toxicity and the number of pills. And over the course of the epidemic, at least in the United States, pharmaceutical companies realized that you need to come up with a medication that you can take once a day, and that you have decreased or less toxicity. And that has definitely occurred.
And now what we're looking at is actually giving patients an injection once a month as your HIV medication. That's again really huge because you won't have to swallow a pill. And I could tell you, I always thought that pill taking was an easy thing to do, until I started taking some of these medications and one pill a day, once a day, I still forget. The afternoon, I think to myself did I take the medication or not? If I get the injection once a month, of course, you got to remember to show have your appointment once a month, that might be an issue, but nevertheless, my point is that treatment has really become much more easy to do, and very effective.
Then of course, we talk about cure. And when we say cure of HIV, we really mean functional cure, which means that you can control the virus, but you never get rid of the virus because the virus will stay in your body, maybe in a hidden form, and under certain situations, it can actually express itself, but we can control it.
The way we treat patients now is we consider it a chronic disease, like diabetes, you never get rid of your diabetes, but you can control it and your quality of life is improved. I think that's really important also over the last several years, the changes that I have seen.