World AIDS Day: Unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS

World AIDS Day, held on December 1st each year, is a day set aside to remember those who have lost the fight to HIV/AIDS, to support those who are currently battling HIV/AIDS and to celebrate the progress that has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In honor of this global health day, we spoke to Carl Fichtenbaum, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine and physician at UC Health Infectious Diseases, to explain the recent research and findings made in diagnosing and treating HIV/AIDS both here at UC Health and beyond.

While there is not a cure for AIDS yet, vital progress has been made in treating this virus. Dr. Fichtenbaum says, “One pill, once a day can control HIV and save lives. The University of Cincinnati has participated in many of the landmark studies leading to FDA approval of these new treatments.”

As a provider helping to treat those living with HIV/AIDS, Dr. Fichtenbaum mentions that it can be hard for patients to find hope when there is no cure. But with innovations in antiretroviral therapy – which controls HIV and prevents transmission – hope can certainly be found through treatment.

“Combination antiretroviral therapy has been the single most important breakthrough in AIDS care,” says Fichtenbaum. “UC has always been on the forefront of testing the initial treatments of these therapies and proving that they work to save lives.”

Another challenge in the treatment of AIDS is the ever-changing healthcare landscape nationwide. ”With the increasing complexity of our healthcare and insurance coverage, there are often gaps when people just cannot get their medications, “ says. Ficthenbaum. “Moreover, we have to continue to work to make treatment available to every single person in the world living with HIV.”

The fight with HIV/AIDS is certainly not over. Dr. Fichtenbaum is one of many doctors and researchers globally who are working every day to make improvements in prevention, detection and treatment of HIV/AIDS. “This day should serve as a reminder to end the stigma of HIV/AIDS for all of those living with the illness,” Fichtenbaum says. “It should also serve as a reminder for the fight ahead.”

The next steps in improving care, according to Fichtenbaum, are quite clear: “We must continue to search for a cure and a vaccine. We have to learn the best ways to prevent the long-term complications of living with HIV for a lifetime.”

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