HIV/AIDS Research Yields Benefits Across Medical Fields

The years of research has translated into advances outside the HIV field, including in oncology and other immune diseases.

Extensive research put into HIV/AIDS has yielded benefits across multiple medical fields, according to experts from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Since the first cases of AIDS were reported in the United States nearly 40 years ago, NIH has invested more than $69 billion in understanding, treating, and preventing HIV/AIDS. In addition to the advances made in the HIV space, such as

antiretroviral therapies

and

pre-exposure prophylaxis

, the years of research has translated into advances outside the HIV field, including in oncology and other infectious diseases.

“The enormous investment in HIV research is clearly justified and validated purely on the basis of advances specifically related to HIV/AIDS,” wrote the experts in a commentary. “However, the collateral advantages of this investment above and beyond HIV/AIDS have been profound, leading to insights and concrete advances in separate, diverse, and unrelated fields of biomedical research and medicine.”

HIV specifically and selectively infects and destroys CD4

+

, the surface protein of T lymphocytes. Research into this mechanism of action has shined a light on the impact that a specific defect in a single component of the immune system has on the entire system. According to the commentary, understanding the vital role CD4

+

T cells plays has provided significant insight into other infectious diseases. Research into immune dysfunction in HIV has also carried over into neoplastic diseases, such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Kaposi sarcoma, which was discovered to be caused by human herpes virus.

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