2 BOCNEWS.com MAY 2017 "For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds..." — Jeremiah 30:17 One of my most enduring memories is my initial experience of taking care of patients infected with the HIV virus. The time I first got involved was relatively early in the history of the pandemic in 1987. I had just returned along with my family from a three year stay in Ethiopia. Oddly enough, I had not seen anyone who was infected with the virus in question-at least not that I could determine. It was a real shock to me to start treating patients in America. The tragedy that I noted immediately was that there seemed to be far to little we could do. We had one drug only that was designated to be used to attack the virus directly and it was called AZT (Zidovudine). This medication in my view was a big disappointment in that it seemed to have little impact on the HIV infection. Perhaps someone, somewhere was able to see that the drug helped, but I did not. Frequently, I noted that not only did the drug not work well, it also had side effects that could not be tolerated. HIV infection was also associated with a number of unusual infections, by other viruses, parasites, and bacteria. If this occurred there were some other drugs we had to use and these also had significant adverse effects. It was a too frequent occurrence that it was a toss up as to which was worse-the treatment or the disease! Early in the course of the pandemic, those who were diagnosed with the HIV infection did poorly and far too many perished within a year or two, The diagnosis of HIV infection was essentially a death sentence. There were few long-term survivors. We tried everything we could try. We used medication or combinations of medication to treat the infections. We used various medications to prevent certain infections. Some of those infected also were afflicted with various types of cancers, one in particular called Kaposi's sarcoma caused disfiguring skin lesions especially on the face. We spent considerable time reading the medical literature, looking for a breakthrough medication. We had consultants we could speak to, and get guidance in our treatment efforts. It all seemed to no avail. Finally, new drugs were developed and even new lab tests were found to help diagnose and guide us in our battle with the HIV infection and our attempts to save our patients. Today we can say that medical research has really allowed us to come a long way in the treatment of HIV infection. We do not have to think as we did before that HIV infection is at the time of diagnosis just a death sentence. New drugs have allowed us to offer people longer and more productive lives. Now having infection by HIV is like having a chronic, but manageable health condition. Patients can now be treated with medications that contain two to four drugs in one pill. These combination medications have been an awesome advance and make it possible to treat people more simply, but more effectively. There are now more than 25 drugs in 6 different classes to treat the HIV infection. New medications and new combinations are being developed. There are also certain designated medications that can be used to help prevent people from getting infected by HIV. There are medications that will help health-care workers from developing infection after a needle-stick on the job. Finally there are medications that will prevent a pregnant mother from passing HIV infection to her child. The medications must all be used correctly and under good medical supervision. It is important to start treatment as soon as the infection is found without any delay. Testing of people at risk is crucial and can really allow for a better outcome. In addition, like everyone else, those with HIV infection need to pay attention to lifestyle, and more healthy habits. This means consuming a healthy diet, stop smoking, exercise, and avoid or minimize alcohol intake as directed by a physician. In the African American community, we need to be aware of the fact that HIV infection is a major health concern. While being 12% of the population, Black Americans account for 44% of new HIV diagnoses. We need to really get the word out to our communities. We also need to assist people as needed to get into treatment, and stay in treatment. We need to help with testing and make sure treatment is started as soon as possible. People need to realize that you can feel well, but still have HIV infection. In addition you can be infected for as long as 10 years before you actually become ill. Knowledge is power and is one of the steps to reduce the burden of disease in the African American community. It is a tragedy to now have effective treatment, but still suffer needlessly. May God bless us to find what we need to live longer and better. Advances inTheTreatment of HIV/AIDS Dr. Conner By Byron E. Conner, M.D. HEALTH 1. J.J. HAIRSTON - YOU DESERVE IT 2. ERIC WADDELL - THE CHURCH SOUND 3. WILLIAMS SINGERS - IN REAL TIME 4. PREASHEA HILLIARD - THE GLORY EXPERIENCE 5. HOLLYN - ONE WAY CONVERSATIONS 6. SELA - UNBREAKABLE 7. CLARK BROTHERS - THANK YOU LORD 8. MERCY ME - LIFER 9. WOW HITS - 2017 10 BISHOP PAUL MORTON - LEGACY LIVE IN NEW ORLEANS Today we can say that medical research has really allowed us to come a long way in the treatment of HIV infection. We do not have to think as we did before that HIV infection is at the time of diagnosis just a death sentence.